Obama Said to Consider Charlotte Mayor Foxx for DOT Post

President Barack Obama is considering Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Anthony Foxx for secretary of transportation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Foxx, 41, is a Democrat and has been a proponent of street car and light-rail projects as mayor of the city, where the Democratic National Convention was held last year. He was first elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2011.

Obama also is considering Deborah Hersman, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, for the position, according to one of the people, both of whom asked for anonymity because the deliberations haven’t been made public. The president is considering candidates from within the transportation department as well.

The current transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, announced in January that he would leave the job once a successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman, declined to comment, as did Alexander Killeffer, Foxx’s press secretary.

As Obama forms his second-term cabinet, he has open slots remaining at the departments of transportation and commerce, the office of U.S. Trade Representative and the Small Business Administration.

Cabinet Openings

For commerce secretary, Penny Pritzker, a Chicago businesswoman whose family built the Hyatt Hotels Corp. chain, is still the frontrunner, according to the people familiar with the process. Pritzker’s finances -- she has a net worth estimated at $1.8 billion, according to Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans -- have made the screening process complicated. Pritzker was Obama's national finance chairman for his 2008 campaign.

Mike Froman, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for international economics, has become the leading candidate to replace Ambassador Ron Kirk as trade representative after Obama asked acting budget director Jeff Zients to stay at the Office of Management and Budget. Francisco J. Sanchez, the undersecretary of commerce for international trade, is another possibility for the trade job, according to a person familiar with the selection process.

Obama has been under pressure to add to the diversity of his Cabinet. The head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Democratic Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio, sent Obama a letter earlier this month criticizing the president’s choices so far, saying they “have hardly been reflective of this country’s diversity.”

Foxx is black, as is United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Convention City

In last year’s presidential campaign, Foxx received national attention as the mayor of the city that hosted the Democratic convention where Obama was renominated as the party’s presidential candidate.

As co-chairman of the host committee, he was involved in a fundraising effort that fell $12.5 million short of its goal.

While the Charlotte host committee and the Democratic National Committee pledged that the convention wouldn’t accept any cash donations from corporations, Duke Energy Corp. ended up contributing $10 million in a line of credit that was never repaid. The committee raised $24.1 million, according to reports it filed with the Federal Election Commission, short of its original $36.6 million goal.

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