UPDATE Report: Trump team considering John Mica for transportation secretary

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U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., gestures at a committee meeting on Capitol Hill in 2008. The frequent Amtrak critic lost his bid for re-election this year and is rumored to be on President-elect Donald Trump's list as a potential nominee for Secretary of Transportation.
Bob Johnston
ORLANDO, Fla. — Although Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica failed to retain his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives after serving there for 24 years, FloridaPolitics.com is reporting that he is under consideration to be U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

On Friday, Mica declined to comment to FloridaPolitics.com about the prospect, but the website did interview Orange County (Fla.) Republican Chairman Lew Oliver, who says he spoke with the congressman. Oliver says that Mica told him that he had heard indirectly — but not directly — that he is on the Trump transition team’s list for the cabinet job and that he is interested.

The county GOP chairman says that Mica was an early and consistent Trump supporter. FloridaPolitics’ Scott Powers says, “Mica got hammered for it during his own campaign; (his opponent) attacked Mica by trying to link him to some of (Trump’s) more objectionable statements and positions.”

Mica was chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2011 to 2013 before U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., was elevated to the post.

“I am certain no one knows for sure, (but) you’d struggle to find anyone more qualified,” says Oliver, the Republican County chairman, speaking the congressman's praises to the political website. Outspoken passenger rail advocate and former Amtrak President David Gunn disagrees. He worked with Mica during his 2002 to 2005 stint at the passenger railroad and answered to the congressman's committee. “Mica never accomplished anything except making issues where none existed," Gunn says.

Prior to, during, and after Mica's tenure in Congress, he has been a constant proponent of selling the Northeast Corridor to real estate developers. He once told Trains in a phone interview that the only impediment to faster schedules from Washington to Boston was the fact that Amtrak owned the infrastructure, but changed the endpoint to New York after he was told that Connecticut’s twisting Metro North trackage between New York and New Haven, Conn., prevented higher speeds on that segment.

Mica also has incessantly grilled company management on Amtrak food service. He once staged a news conference at a McDonald's restaurant in Washington Union Station, telling reporters that Amtrak labor costs and hamburger prices were too high compared to those of the land-based fast food giant. Like other passenger rail critics, Mica has refused to link providing amenities with the ability to generate higher per-passenger ticket revenue and has decried long-distance passenger train “losses.”

Though certain Mica critics say he was no friend of passenger rail, the congressman did help secure funding for the Orlando, Fla.-area’s SunRail commuter rail operation and the new international terminal and train station now under construction at Orlando International Airport. All Aboard Florida’s Brightline trains from Miami could serve that terminal as early as 2018.

Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama tapped members of the opposition party to initially serve as Secretary of Transportation — Norman Mineta, a Democrat, and Ray LaHood, a Republican, respectively — but there is no formal requirement to do so.

UPDATE: Comments from David Gunn and Lew Oliver regarding U.S. Rep. John Mica. Nov. 14, 2016, 9:29 a.m.
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