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Politics, government and public life for Southern California

With Ray LaHood leaving the cabinet, will Antonio Villaraigosa have a job in the White House?

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The White House announced Tuesday that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will step down from his cabinet position. With that news, Los Angeles political insiders are wondering whether this could be Antonio Villaraigosa’s big moment.

With the L.A. mayor in the home stretch of his second term, speculation continues as to what Villaraigosa will do next. His name is frequently mentioned for a possible cabinet position with the Obama Administration. Villaraigosa chaired the 2012 Democratic National Convention and spent the better part of the year traveling around the country to campaign for the president. He is a frequent guest on cable news and Sunday morning talk shows. And on July 1, he will be unemployed. 

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the mayor sounded open to a move to Washington, D.C.

“When you have a conversation with the president, you say, ‘Yes’ or ‘Yes, sir’,” he told the newspaper.

Locally, Villaraigosa has chaired the board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In 2008 he pushed for Measure R, which increased L.A. County’s sales tax by a half-penny for regional transportation projects. Villaraigosa frequently visited D.C. as he pushed the federal transportation program America Fast Forward.

The White House offered no immediate comment on LaHood’s successor. In a statement, the secretary said he would remain on the job until Congress confirms his successor.

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