Ray LaHood is leaving the Obama administration. The Republican Transportation Secretary made the announcement on Tuesday.
LaHood wrote in a note to his department staff that he will stay in his position until a replacement has been confirmed.
This way, in LaHood’s words, he can ensure “a smooth transition for the department and all the important work we still have to do,” reports The Los Angeles Times.
LaHood is a former seven-term congressman from Peoria, Illinois. He has led the department since 2009, but he wasn’t expected to stay on through a second term.
The White House did not comment immediately on any possible replacements, but Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is a possible successor.
President Obama also released a statement about Ray LaHood’s decision to leave. He praised the secretary’s bipartisanship, saying:
“Years ago, we were drawn together by a shared belief that those of us in public service owe an allegiance not to party or faction, but to the people we were elected to represent. And Ray has never wavered in that belief.”
The Washington Post notes that Ray LaHood’s time in office has been marked by a relentless campaign against distracted driving as well as his safety-first mantra. He also had the determination to visit every state in the country. In his letter, the Transportation Secretary added:
“I have let President Obama know that I will not serve a second term as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the Department, and I am grateful to President Obama for giving me such an extraordinary opportunity.”
There is no word on why Ray LaHood decided to leave the administration. With his departure, Obama’s administration is also losing its last Republican.