New Front-Runner for Powell Seat


Christine Kurth now appears to be the front-runner to gain Michael Powell's vacant seat at the Federal Communications Commission.

Powell resigned in March, with commissioner Kevin Martin assuming the chairmanship.

Kurth is currently deputy staff director of the Senate Commerce Committee and focuses on telecommunications issues. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the committee's chairman, is pushing the White House to nominate her.

Kurth wasn't even in the race until two leading contenders dropped out.

White House FCC favorite and former Texas utility regulator Rebecca Klein is now the primary candidate to be chairman of the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission and probably won't be joining the FCC. Lobbyist Earl Comstock, previously Stevens' favored candidate, pulled his name from contention.

With the White House favorite now heading to another agency, Stevens has a good chance at getting his pick on the commission because his committee must vote on FCC nominations.

Kurth, 34, is from Anchorage. She began her Capitol Hill career as a Stevens intern, ultimately serving as deputy general counsel for the Appropriations Committee when Stevens was chairman.

She also has been an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

Others in the race for Powell's seat and another opening expected when Republican Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy resigns are Howard Waltzman, lead counsel for House Commerce Committee, and Michael Gallagher, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.