Minnesota Dems push Oberstar for secretary of Transportation

Minnesota Democratic lawmakers are pushing President Obama to appoint former Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) to replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Oberstar is a former chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure, leading the panel from 2007 to 2011. Oberstar gave up the committee gavel after he lost his seat in Congress in the 2010 election.


The current Democratic members of the Minnesota congressional delegation said Wednesday in a letter to Obama that he should replace LaHood, who has announced he is retiring from the Department of Transportation.

“We write today to respectfully urge you to appoint Congressman Jim Oberstar, our friend, colleague and fellow Minnesotan, to serve as U.S. Secretary of Transportation in your second Administration,” the lawmakers wrote to the president  in a letter dated Feb. 8.

“Here in Congress and throughout our nation, Jim Oberstar is recognized as a preeminent leader whose understanding of the complex and challenging transportation, infrastructure and aviation issues we face is simply unmatched,” the Oberstar backers continued. 

The Minnesota lawmakers added that Oberstar was widely respected by current members of both parties in Congress.

“The bipartisan respect and affection he earned over 18 terms of service was clearly evident on Swearing In Day, January 3rd, when he stepped onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to a spontaneous outburst of applause and a standing ovation,” the lawmakers wrote. “Members old and new were acknowledging a record of accomplishment that in our collective judgment make him the clear choice to serve America as Secretary of Transportation.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial Horowitz offers troubling picture of FBI's Trump campaign probe MORE and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenLankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Take Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota MORE and Reps. Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan, Keith Ellison and Collin Peterson.

LaHood announced his retirement last month, touching off a fierce round of speculation in Washington about who would be appointed to replace him.

Oberstar has been included on a long list of rumored candidates to replace the outgoing Transportation secretary, but he has not been thought of a likely pick for the DOT post.

Like Oberstar, LaHood was also a member of Congress before he was appointed by Obama to lead the Transportation Department in 2009.

The White House has been quiet about who is in the running to replace him, but speculation has focused in recent days on National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairwoman Deborah Hersman for the post.

LaHood has said he will remain in the Transportation secretary position until Obama appoints his successor and the pick is confirmed by the Senate.