LaHood: I'm a One-Term Secretary

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Ray LaHood speaking earlier this year. Photo: Bossi via flickr

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood won't serve in the post beyond the end of President Obama's current term, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

LaHood told the paper he will serve only one term in Obama's cabinet and that he won't follow through on speculation that he might run for governor of Illinois. "I'm not running for public office anymore," he's quoted as saying.

The comments came in an interview following a Washington speech in which LaHood, a former Republican congressman, urged GOP lawmakers to compromise with Democrats and pass new infrastructure programs as part of the president's jobs plan.

It's common for cabinet secretaries to serve for only one term. Notable exceptions included Donna Shalala, who served as Health and Human Services Secretary for all 8 years of Bill Clinton's presidency, and Madeline Albright, who served all eight years as Secretary of State under Clinton.

In his remarks at the National Press Club, which came before his interview  the L.A. Times,  LaHood expressed disgust with the partisan gridlock in Washington. "A lot has changed in this town since I arrived more than 35 years ago," he said, "but nothing changed more than the evolution of a culture in which elected officials are rewarded for intransigence." He continued: "For too many, compromise has become a dirty word -- for many, compromise isn't even in their dictionary."

LaHood lamented House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica's comments at a Wednesday  House committee hearing.

"Given what Chairman Mica said about the infrastructure bank yesterday, probably that's not going very far."  [Update:  at a Washington Post forum on Friday, LaHood said: "The President is not going to give up on the infrastructure bank.  Other countries have done it, a lot of states have done it, they've leveraged a lot of private money doing that." ]

He said on Thursday: "I believe that we are going to get an infrastructure program, and I believe it will happen before the end of the calendar year, because I think there's an enormous amount of pressure on Congress. When they go back home, and they go to their churches, and they go to their barbecues, and they go to their political events, the one thing they're hearing is: 'what are you going to do about jobs, and what are you going to do about the economy?' We know how to fix that. They know how to fix it. Reaching that kind of consensus, I think, is possible."

With reporting from Kate Hinds.