By Britten Chase, PolitickerOR.com Reporter
November 11, 2008 – 1:12pm
The rumors of who will be the future secretary of transportation in an Obama administration have centered on U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland), but some in the transportation world have been floating the name of a second Oregon congressman as well.
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield), a senior Democrat on the House Transportation committee was mentioned in a report by Traffic World Online as a potential Obama appointee.
Other names that have been floated have been Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn), Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, and a couple Washington, D.C. outsiders, including New York City Transportation Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan.
It is unclear whether either Blumenauer or DeFazio are actively seeking the post. DeFazio has been rumored in the press to be contemplating a run for governor in 2010, while Blumenauer sent an email to his supporters Tuesday morning telling them he was looking forward to being a part of Congress in the beginning of 2009.
“I will have more colleagues in the House and the Senate who are not just Democrats, but people with good values, extraordinary political skills, common sense, and a human touch,” Blumenauer wrote. “I look forward to beginning an intense 50 months with a new administration, a stronger congress, and citizens more engaged than ever before.”
Both Blumenauer and DeFazio have been strong advocates for rebuilding the country’s infrastructure as a way to revitalize the economy and create jobs.
DeFazio, who will be entering his 12th term in the house if he is not tapped as transportation secretary, sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, where he serves as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, as well as a member of the Aviation and Rail subcommittee. The Springfield congressman has been pushing for infrastructure improvements and planning ahead to make U.S. transportation more green and energy efficient.
Blumenauer, who is looking at his eighth term in the House, has also advocated for energy independence, focusing on the connection between sustainable transportation and a sustainable economy. The Portland congressman has being a strong advocate for alternative transportation for commuters. He’s focused on rail commuting as a way to wean the U.S. off of foreign oil. He is also the founder of the Congressional Bike Caucus, and authored the 2008 Bicycle Commuter Act.
Blumenauer has the added advantage of being actively involved in Obama’s campaign since he endorsed the former Illinois Senator for the job in February. While Oregon was never treated to a visit from Obama during the general election, Blumenauer was actively traveling around the state to speak on behalf of the Democratic president-elect.
Two Oregonians’ ranking high on a list for one cabinet post may seem like a fine indicator of the state’s level of expertise, even if those caught in daily rush-hour traffic jams on I-5 may wonder if Oregon is really that far ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to transportation management.
Still, should President-elect Obama look to the Beaver State for an individual to lead the country to a greener, more sustainable transportation system, the state offers two candidates for the job.