04/01/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Handicapping The Race To Replace Kevin Martin As FCC Chair

WASHINGTON -- The spoils system might not be what it was when Sen. William Marcy, D-N.Y., inadvertently gave it its name in his 1832 "To the victor go the spoils" speech, but patronage still is an important power for the president as he or she places men and women in positions across the capital from the Pentagon to the FCC's offices in the Portals.

While commission appointments might not be the plum posts for presidential job-seekers, the person selected has a wide latitude in setting the telecommunications agenda for what is one of the most important government positions in the "knowledge economy." Even as there are still three candidates vying to be leader of the free world, it's not too early to begin speculation who would be chairman of the FCC.

If Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., takes the prize, Susan Ness is the name bandied about among the tele-cognesceti. Ness, a former commissioner, has strong ties to the Clintons. She was a fundraiser and former campaign worker for President Clinton and has continued in that role actively campaigning for the senator. She has been named a "Hill Raiser" for raising more than $100,000 for Clinton and has been active in her campaign.

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