Updated Wednesday 7:25 central time
WASHINGTON--Hat tip to the Peoria Journal Star, reporting Wednesday that Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), who worked closely in Congress with President elect Barack Obama, will be named Transportation Secretary.
LaHood has long been one of the Republicans closest to Obama and invited him to Peoria early in Obama's tenure as a freshman Illinois senator. LaHood did not run for re-election and is winding up his House career. He brings experience in transportation issues as a former Transportation Committee member. Currently, he serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Of no small matter, LaHood is on friendly terms with Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), Obama's incoming chief of staff.
Obama likes LaHood for a lot of reasons; he is a pragmatic moderate and I bet a selling point is LaHood's willingness and indeed eagerness to reach across the aisle. LaHood was a founder of a series of congressional retreats designed to foster collegiality and diminish poisonous partisanship in the House. I can see LaHood doing double duty as DOT chief and Obama's channel to the GOP House members. LaHood, elected in the 1994 GOP sweep, was chief of staff for House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).
And don't forget the Lincoln connection, part of the ongoing Obama narrative. LaHood, along with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is one of the co-chairs of the United States Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission celebrating in 2009 the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.
Below, LaHood bio. Source: LaHood House website
Ray represents the 18th Congressional District of Illinois
Re-elected on November 7, 2006 (67.3% of the vote in the 18th District)
Currently serving 7th term in Congress
First elected on November 8, 1994 to the historic 104th Congress
U.S. House Committee Assignment:
-Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, Ranking Member
-Subcommittee on Agricultural, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies
-Subcommittee on Legislative Branch
Bradley University (1971): B.S. in Education and Sociology
Canton Junior College
High school: Spalding Institute
Honorary Degree: MacMurray College (2006) Doctorate in Public Service
Honorary Degree: Tri-State University (2004) Doctorate in Humane Letters
Honorary Degree: Eureka College (2002) Doctorate in Public Service
Honorary Degree: Lincoln College (2000) Doctorate in Political Science
1982-1994: Chief of Staff for U.S. House Minority Leader Robert Michel (R-IL 18)
1982: Member, Illinois House of Representatives
1977-1982: District Administrative Assistant, Congressman Tom Railsback (R-IL 17)
Ray also worked for the Rock Island Youth Services Bureau, the Bi-State Planning Commission, and was a junior high school social studies teacher for six years.
Born December 6, 1945 in Peoria, Illinois
Children: Darin (wife: Kristen), Amy (husband: Kevin), Sam, Sara (husband: Brian)
Seven grandchildren (Ella, McKay, Henry, Luke, Oliver, Theodore, Brogan)