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As a rule, a new president’s choice of a secretary of transportation makes few headlines, even when the appointee is a member of the opposition. In 2001, George W. Bush decided to name as transportation secretary Norman Mineta, a former congressman from California, to be the token Democrat in his Cabinet, and no one noticed. And no one except for Mark Shields, who lavishly praised the appointment, paid much attention last week when Barack Obama made Ray LaHood, the retiring representative from Peoria, Ill., the second Republican in his Cabinet. This one, however, is loaded with meaning because LaHood is no ordinary congressman. He has been, as Shields pointed out, one of the most widely respected members of the House, a leader in the uphill struggle for comity between the parties, a throwback to the days of his old boss Bob Michel, the minority leader who resisted Newt Gingrich’s scorched-earth tactics. Such was LaHood’s reputation for fairness that he was the natural choice to preside over the House during the explosive impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton.
I came up with something important while my Presidential Press Posse rolled all over Spokane to experience Tuesday night’s historic election. My theory is that there is a very good reason why Republicans and Democrats hold their election festivities in separate hotels.
Republicans and Democrats voice their choices for their parties' presidential nominees at precinct caucuses Saturday, Feb. 9, in Spokane.
Voters turned out Tuesday for primaries or caucuses in 24 states as a thinned field of candidates sought their parties' presidential nominations.