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McDowell looks good for FCC spot

Nominee currently V.P. for telecom group CompTel

For Robert M. McDowell, President George Bush’s nominee to fill the remaining vacant commissioner’s seat at the FCC, it’s all over but the voting.

The two senior members of a Senate committee presiding over his nomination welcomed McDowell warmly at his confirmation hearing Thursday. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), not the biggest cheerleader for the Bush administration, praised the president for nominating McDowell, saying the telecom lawyer was “well qualified” and that he “looks forward” to working with the longtime GOP attorney.

Not a discouraging word was heard.

Instead, the hearing was essentially an opportunity for McDowell, currently V.P. and general counsel for telecom group CompTel, to explain how he would avoid any potential conflict of interest while serving as an FCC commish.

“If confirmed, I will always consult with the FCC office of general counsel on any matter involving CompTel,” McDowell said.

McDowell aslo emphasized his commitment to “free markets and to free speech,” invoking points George Washington and Thomas Jefferson once made on the matters. He also pledged to uphold a bipartisan spirit.

“There aren’t any partisan gigabytes or partisan megahertz,” he said. “I will not view these things through a partisan lens.”

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who chaired the committee, dispensed with the hearing in less than 20 minutes. After all, Stevens had suggested McDowell to the White House as a nominee.

The committee will vote on the nomination on Mar. 16.