"The election results ought to give pause to Chairman Wheeler," said Randolph May, president of the Free State Foundation, in a statement following the Republican's pick-up of at least a dozen seats in the House and the majority in the Senate. "The country obviously is in no mood to approve of a federal government agency that seems too eager to regulate in the absence of no demonstrable consumer harm or market failure."
That includes network neutrality rules the foundation has long argued were unnecessary and even potentially detrimental to innovation and investment.
"Wheeler ought to pivot rather quickly away from his position that Title II regulation of Internet providers is on the table and make clear it's off the table," he said.
"Then, if he still thinks the agency should adopt some new net neutrality regulation -- which I don't -- he ought to concentrate on fashioning a proposal under Section 706 that is sufficiently flexible that ISPs are able to experiment with various new service options that may be responsive to evolving consumer demands."
But Wheeler has the backing of President Obama for new net neutrality rules, and as the head of an independent agency, is not likely to be dissuaded from trying to restore rules he says are key to preserving an Open Internet.
He likened his position this week to a venture capitalist or CEO, recognizing he has to consider input from others but saying the buck stops with him. " I am grateful that I have four other commissioners with whom to work," he told a group of venture capitalists, "but by statute I am the CEO of an agency charged with the responsibility of overseeing industries that make up approximately one-sixth of the U.S. economy."
Wheeler's management style has been likened by some Washington observers more to that of a cabinet secretary than an FCC chair.