Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa For Transportation Secretary?

The departure of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood raised new questions over what Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would do if he is offered the job -- either now or after July 1, when his term as mayor expires.

Villaraigosa was in South Korea for the Special Olympics and is not expected to return until Thursday.

However, the mayor told The Wall Street Journal last week that he would not say what conversations he has had with the Obama administration, and he told the newspaper: "When you have a conversation with the president, you say 'Yes,' or 'Yes, sir."'

Villaraigosa has been a key political ally for the president both in this most recent election and four years ago, actively campaigning in the Southwest to get out the Latino vote.

The mayor was at this year's inauguration and has been to Washington numerous times lobbying for funds and programs.

Transportation has been a major part of Villaraigosa's efforts since he was elected mayor, first pushing for Proposition R, the half-percent sales tax, and its offshoot, America Fast Forward, in which the city is seeking an advance on the $40 billion that will be generated by Proposition R over the next 30 years to speed up project construction.

He also has pushed for the multibillion-dollar modernization of Los Angeles International Airport, with one of his first acts as mayor being to resolve a lawsuit filed against the project.

In addition, he has sought to reduce air pollution from trucks and ships at the Port of Los Angeles, while also pushing the deepening of the channel to compete with the Panama Canal expansion.

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