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Bush to pick longtime friend over tech VC for Commerce post

The president-elect is set to choose longtime Texas friend Donald Evans as his secretary of Commerce, passing over Silicon Valley venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme, according to transition sources.

WASHINGTON--President-elect George W. Bush on Wednesday will choose longtime Texas friend Donald Evans as his secretary of Commerce, passing over Silicon Valley venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme, according to transition sources.

The choice of Evans, a onetime colleague of Bush in the Midland, Texas, oil fields and Bush's campaign chairman and chief fund-raiser, has been expected. GOP technology officials had pushed hard for Kvamme, a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The Commerce Department could be a key indicator of the Bush administration's inclinations toward technology regulation and policy. Along with funding technology research and development, the department and some of its agencies are examining Internet issues such as closing the digital divide between those who have Net access and those who don't, and accelerating deployment of broadband, or high-speed, services to underserved areas.

The agency is also spearheading a wide-ranging government effort to find more wireless airwaves for advanced services such as high-speed Internet access.

"The high-tech sector of the economy already is experiencing a virtual breakdown," said Jeffrey Eisenbach, president of the Progress and Freedom Foundation.

Eisenbach said halting a "high-tech meltdown" will require Bush, Evans and others in the Bush administration to reverse "the tax-and-regulate policies now hurting high-tech."

Bush is expected to name Evans as Commerce secretary in a press conference Wednesday at the University of Texas at Austin. Evans will be subject to confirmation in the Senate next year.

Evans, 54, is considered a confidant of Bush by most political observers, which should help him fight for turf representing an agency that often finds itself in jurisdictional conflict with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Floyd Kvamme Kvamme didn't have the years of friendship with Bush on his side, but he did meet with Bush in Austin on Dec. 16, along with other members of Bush's high-tech advisory council, including Cisco Systems chief executive John Chambers and Dell Computer co-founder Michael Dell. Prior to joining Kleiner Perkins in 1984, Kvamme was an executive with National Semiconductor and Apple Computer.

Kvamme is also chairman of the right-leaning think tank Empower America, which boasts as resident scholars former Housing secretary Jack Kemp, former Education secretary Bill Bennett and former United Nations ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. He worked on the presidential campaign of former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole in 1996 and is on the executive committee of the nonpartisan technology advocacy group TechNet.

When asked whether he was interested in the Commerce post, Kvamme has given reporters a candidate's typical answer, namely that he wasn't seeking the job but would find it hard to say no. Kvamme still may be offered a job in the administration, possibly as the Commerce Department assistant secretary in charge of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.