No one can replace Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, our favorite moderate Midwestern Republican who has passionately told us not to text and drive and also made sure Congress caught hell when the Federal Aviation Administration was facing a partial shutdown. However, unless President Obama has convinced LaHood otherwise, he plans to step down from his post at the end of the president's current term. (In his typical straight-talk manner, he casually mentioned his plans to a Chicago reporter last year, causing an unintended news-cycle firestorm.)
Obama will need a replacement, so it's time to play the parlor game of who the next head of DOT will be: If Obama wins, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been mentioned as a candidate. There is also former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. How about former House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn? What about another moderate Republican in Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio?
If Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wins, LaTourette could also be on the list. (Hey, why not?) What about retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas? One college blogger from NextGen Journal thinks LaHood could be a possibility for Romney. He's a Republican after all. That's doubtful, however, considering the disdain LaHood has shown for Republicans in Congress.
For you experts, I have some more substantive questions: What are the biggest challenges for the next Transportation Secretary? What qualities would get that person to advance the ball on infrastructure? Where should LaHood's replacement have expertise? In business? In surface transportation? In aviation? In Congress? And while we're at it, why don't all of you throw any names into the hat that I haven't thought of.