Ousted GOP lawmaker eyes gig as Trump’s Transportation Secretary

Ousted GOP lawmaker eyes gig as Trump’s Transportation Secretary
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Rep. John Mica lost his tough reelection battle last week, but the Florida Republican already has his sights on a new gig: the head of the Department of Transportation (DOT).

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Mica told reporters Monday night that he has had conversations with people connected to President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL players stand in tunnel during anthem, extending protests 12 former top intel officials blast Trump's move to revoke Brennan's security clearance NYT: Omarosa believed to have as many as 200 tapes MORE about potentially joining the administration as Transportation Secretary, including former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Trump’s deputy campaign manager, David Bossie.

“If given the opportunity, I would be greatly honored,” he said. “Everybody’s been talking to me. Everywhere I go, it’s: ‘Are you going to be DOT Secretary?’”

Mica was unseated by Democratic challenger Stephanie Murphy after a career that spanned more than two decades in Congress and included a stint serving as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman. His once heavily Republican Orlando-area district became more favorable to Democrats since court-ordered redistricting.

The veteran lawmaker, who has long been an avid supporter of Trump, said his experience working with Washington’s Metrorail system, Amtrak, high-speed rail efforts and other wide-ranging transportation projects throughout the country would make him a good candidate for the job.

He also has a close relationship with Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceState Dept. alarmed about Russian satellite's ‘abnormal behavior’ Lewandowski says Bloomberg would be 'very competitive' against Trump in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states MORE, whom he called a good friend.

“They've got to get a big package through in a hurry,” Mica said, referring to Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure proposal. “You don't want to be just a show horse. I'm a work horse. I want the ability to make a difference.”

 

Trump’s DOT secretary could play a major role in helping him get a massive infrastructure package over the finish line in Congress.

Trump, who has long talked about the need to rebuild the nation's crumbling roads and has lamented about the slow speed of trains in the U.S., may see Mica as a good fit for the task.

But it’s unclear whether Trump would be looking to appoint a Democrat to lead the DOT, similar to how President Obama tapped former GOP Rep. Ray LaHood to the role.

Mica, known for his colorful comments on Capitol Hill, quipped that the only category he would fulfill is the “senior citizen” slot.

The Florida lawmaker admitted he wasn’t the only name in the mix and has “no idea” whether he has a legitimate shot, but said his conversation with Gingrich was “very encouraging.”

He added that he wouldn't accept a position leading one of the agencies housed under DOT, like the Federal Aviation Administration or the Federal Railroad Administration.

"I will take nothing less than a cabinet-level position," he said.

Mica already has the support of at least one colleague. When pressed by The Hill on whom he would like to see as DOT chief, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) immediately pointed to Mica, who was sitting nearby.

“I don’t know anybody more knowledgeable. This is a guy who lives, eats, breathes infrastructure and transportation,” said Diaz-Balart, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on transportation. “I still go to him for his knowledge.”