Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ray LaHood

Current job: Republican congressman from Illinois.

Credentials: Since 1995, LaHood has served in the House of Representatives, representing Illinois's 18th District, which includes Peoria and the rural downstate area. Before that, he served as a congressional aide, including a stint as chief of staff to then-House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.). LaHood was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives for one term in 1982. Before that, he was a junior high school teacher and served as chief planner for the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission.

What he offers: LaHood, 63, was an early and ardent supporter of Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, but he established a reputation in Congress as a political centrist who can work across the aisle. He frequently criticized the Bush administration and leaders of his own party, especially over Iraq war policy. LaHood, who holds a coveted seat on the House Appropriations Committee, would bring experience overseeing federal spending to the Transportation Department, which is to manage many of Obama's infrastructure projects under his economic stimulus plan.

Quote: "The White House will have to work 24 hours a day to find people on our side who aren't going to jump ship," LaHood said last year, referencing opposition among House Republicans to Bush's increase in troop levels in Iraq. "This is a real serious dilemma for members in difficult seats. The next election will be about the White House, not the House. We will rise or fall on our nominee and how this war is going."

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