Sen. Boxer: Villaraigosa would be 'terrific' Transportation Secretary

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Speculation about LaHood's future in the Obama administration has raged since he said in 2011 that he would retire at the end of the president's first term. LaHood has since softened his definitive stance, saying in December that he would not make a final decision until he talked to Obama.

LaHood's name was later not included in a White House list of Cabinet officials that would definitely be staying on the job in the president's second term.

Department of Transportation officials pointed to LaHood's December comments when asked by The Hill for an update on his future plans on Tuesday.

"I've had one meeting with the president and he's a little bit busy now, but we'll get back together sometime early next year and we'll continue our discussion,"  LaHood said then, referencing Obama's end-of-the-year deficit negotiations with Congress.

Villaraigosa has frequently been mentioned a possible contender to replace LaHood if he does retire from the transportation secretary position.

Villaraigosa is in the final year of his second term as Los Angeles mayor, and he played a prominent role in pushing Congress to approve a $105 billion transportation bill last year. The Los Angeles mayor, who also was chairman of the 2012 Democratic Party convention, frequently appeared at the capital with Boxer to push Republicans to vote in favor of approving the bill.

Villaraigosa, who is Hispanic, could be an attractive candidate for the position if LaHood retires. Obama has come under fire for a lack of diversity in his initial second term appointments -- his picks for secretary of State, Defense, Treasury and CIA director have all been white men, which has been frequently pointed out by Republicans in Congress. 

-Ben Goad contributed to his report