Now that Ray LaHood has finally announced he is stepping down as President Obama's Secretary of Transportation, speculation has immediately focused on whether outgoing L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will succeed him.
There's no question that Obama needs a Latino in the Cabinet. It's not clear whether Obama thinks he needs a big name like Villaraigosa at DOT, though the timing and messaging of LaHood's departure would seem to point in Villaraigosa direction: LaHood took his time making a decision and made it clear he'll stay on until a successor arrives. Villaraigosa is termed out at the end of June.
But maybe the most interesting question raised by the Villaraigosa possibility is whether a mayor is the best choice the DOT job. As a recent blog in Atlantic Cities noted, there's a pretty good case for a mayor as opposed to a career transportation expert or a transplant from Capitol Hill.