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Clyburn: ‘My Goal Is Not to Drop the Baton’

First woman to lead the commission sees herself as member of relay team, to give next teammate “a running start"

It’s a new era at the FCC today as Commissioner Mignon Clyburn becomes acting chair of the agency.

She’s the first woman to hold that position.

Clyburn today acknowledged it’s unclear how long she will be in this role, since the Senate has yet to schedule a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s selection to head the agency, Tom Wheeler.

With that in mind, Clyburn told the FCC staff in a note she thought it would be a good idea “for us to get together, to assure each other, that we’re on the same page.”

In her new role, Clyburn said she sees herself more as a member of a relay team, running one of the middle legs. “My job is to build on forward momentum, give the next teammate a running start, an improved position, and no matter what, my goal is not to drop the baton.”

Clyburn intends to model herself on former Commissioner Michael Copps, when he was acting chair before Julius Genachowski became chairman. She praised Copps, who Clyburn said approached the job with seriousness and humility, and led the agency through the completion of the DTV transition.

Former Chairman Julius Genachowski left the commission last Friday. Former Commissioner Robert McDowell’s last official day was last Friday also. Both men are going on to different think tanks before presumably transitioning back to the private sector.

Nominations of candidates of different political parties are traditionally sent to the Senate as a pair. In this case, the GOP has not yet offered a successor to the Republican seat on the FCC held by former Commissioner McDowell.