Oberstar touted for Transportation Secretary

Marshall Helmberger

Former Eighth District Congressman Jim Oberstar is being touted by top Minnesota DFLers for the position of U.S. Transportation Secretary.

Current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican, has announced he’ll be stepping down from the job as soon as the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate can confirm a replacement.

In a Feb. 8 letter to President Obama, the seven DFL members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, urged the president to name Oberstar—the former chair of the House Transportation Committee—to the nation’s top transportation position. During his long tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, Oberstar earned the moniker “Mr. Transportation” for his singular focus on a wide range of transportation issues.

“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,” stated the DFLers in their letter.

Oberstar told the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently that he’d be pleased to serve, if asked, but Oberstar is widely considered a long shot for the job, particularly in an administration that has already drawn criticism for the abundance of older white males in top positions. Oberstar has noted that at least two women, Debbie Hersman, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, and former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, are likely the top candidates for the job.

The letter to President Obama was signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken along with Reps. Rick Nolan, Tim Walz, Collin Peterson, Keith Ellison, and Betty McCollum.


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