Among those thought to be under consideration is Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat who has pushed for major infrastructure investments in Southern California. As a Latino, Villaraigosa would help address criticism that Obama’s second-term cabinet appointments so far have been skewed toward white males. The mayor championed a Los Angeles County transportation plan last year that included a sales tax increase, which garnered majority support among voters but narrowly missed the two-thirds threshold needed to pass.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, cochairman of the Building America’s Future coalition with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is considered by some lobbyists and industry observers as a strong possibility, given his recent work on transportation development.
Former House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James L. Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who lost his re-election bid in 2010, has expressed interest, though he was publicly critical of the administration for not backing his proposed surface transportation bill in 2009. Recently retired Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a moderate Ohio Republican with close ties to Speaker John A. Boehner, is another industry and lobbyist favorite.
Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said anybody who is chosen should be cut from LaHood’s bipartisan mold.
“Four years ago, my good friend Ray LaHood put party politics aside in order to help modernize our transportation infrastructure and speed our economic recovery,” Rahall said in a statement.