When LaHood announced his departure, it was thought that Georgia would lose an essential federal connection as it pursued hundreds of millions of dollars for the dredging of the Port of Savannah. LaHood and Gov. Nathan Deal served together in Congress.
The new path of influence: Foxx not only calls Obama friend, but is likewise close to Kasim Reed. The mayor of Atlanta paid a visit to Charlotte in February, to help the mayor of Charlotte over two hurdles - funding for a new Panthers football stadium, and a city streetcar system. The same streetcar system cited by the White House as a reason for Foxx' nomination - and similar to the one being built in Atlanta.
Foxx also knows Keith Parker, who became general manager and CEO of MARTA in December. Parker led Charlotte's transit system in the late-2000s when Foxx served as a councilman. The transit honcho often mentions that Foxx once called Parker a great communicator, saying he "listen[s] 75 percent of the time and talk 25 percent of the time."
There's no way to tell exactly how these relationships will benefit the city and state. You could probably even argue that considering Charlotte's friendly rivalry with Atlanta, having Foxx calling the shots on federal funding could hurt us.
But when your city is building a streetcar network and is home to a transit system that could always use help from Washington, D.C., it can't hurt to be on a first-name basis with the federal transportation secretary.
UPDATE, 2:23 p.m.: Reed has formally commended Obama's appointment of Foxx. In a statement, the mayor wrote:
I applaud President Barack Obama's decision to nominate Mayor Anthony Foxx as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. A committed public servant, Mayor Foxx worked tirelessly to improve infrastructure and foster manufacturing and economic development in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. I have no doubt that the U.S. Department of Transportation will benefit tremendously from his leadership and that it will continue to secure our nation's economic future through vital infrastructure investments that create well-paying jobs and enhance our global competitiveness.
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