Former Senator and not conservative enough Texas Gubernatorial candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison appears to be under consideration by the Obama administration to replace Ray LaHood according to The Hill. While LaHood has not given an official statement yet as to his intentions, the talk and expectation has tilted towards a replacement. Hutchison reportedly joins former Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) under consideration. Both were considered possible Romney Transportation picks.
When you combine the history of using this particular cabinet post to appoint a member of the opposite Party (as if Transportation was the less important scrap office you tossed to your opponents) and Obama's bipartisan tendencies it shouldn't come as a shock that Republicans are under consideration.
So why Hutchison? And who is LaTourette?
Hutchison is a former ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and was a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee. She pushed successfully for the passage of more stringent bus safety regulations, including requiring seatbelts and stronger windows, after a string of deadly crashes.
LaTourette was one of Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) closest lieutenants, but he was also a centrist who bucked conservative members of his party on fights over Amtrak funding and road and transit appropriations. LaTourette was a member of the House Appropriations Committee's Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee.
Texas certainly is a big state which means that we have all kinds of transportation issues including many that other states just don't have to deal with due to geography and size. Unfortunately, leadership varies to a great degree once you step down from the statewide level into regional and municipal needs. Hutchison, like most statewide Republican officeholders, still is on the “more and better roads” side of the transportation spectrum which is an easy position to take as a Texas Republican beholden to a suburban/exurban voter pool and plenty of wealthy donors invested in our state's massive road construction industry.
But is that what the entire country needs? Is Obama going to appoint another white man and could that hesitancy give Hutchison a better shot? Much of it could depend on how much Obama is focused on policy or politics with each remaining appointment or vacancy.