Charlotte Mayor Foxx won’t seek re-election – will more Obama cronyism soon follow?

Charlotte’s Mayor and friend-of-Obama Anthony Foxx made a somewhat surprising announcement here yesterday that he would NOT be seeking re-election for Mayor this fall:

After an early morning announcement that rocked Charlotte and raised more questions than answers, Mayor Anthony Foxx said he is leaving office at the end of the year to spend more time with his family and because “I never intended to be mayor for life.”

“One of my goals has been to really show that you can serve in this office with dignity and honor, and at the appropriate time go do something else,” Foxx told the Observer on Friday night. “And that’s what public service has always been for me.”

Foxx, 41, who became the worldwide face of Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention and contemplated a run for governor in the same year, announced his decision not to seek a third term in an unusually private way.

Late Thursday night, he sat down for an interview with a TV station. Early Friday morning, an aide emailed a statement saying that after more than three years in office, Foxx’s current term will be his last.

Then he left town.

That left the campaign aide alone to answer questions during a quickly arranged news conference at the Government Center.

This has “rocked” Charlotte and surprised many here primarily due to the fact that Foxx likely would have won a third term easily, as political scientists in the area talked about yesterday. The official reason given by Foxx is that he wants to ‘spend more time with the family’ but some Charlotteans aren’t buying it, and think Foxx is preparing to accept a possible offer as Obama’s Transportation Secretary. It was reported a couple of weeks ago that Foxx was on the President’s short list for the spot:

President Barack Obama is considering Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Anthony Foxx for secretary of transportation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Foxx, 41, is a Democrat and has been a proponent of street car and light-rail projects as mayor of the city, where the Democratic National Convention was held last year. He was first elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2011.

Obama also is considering Deborah Hersman, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, for the position, according to one of the people, both of whom asked for anonymity because the deliberations haven’t been made public. The president is considering candidates from within the transportation department as well.

The current transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, announced in January that he would leave the job once a successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman, declined to comment, as did Alexander Killeffer, Foxx’s press secretary.

As Obama forms his second-term cabinet, he has open slots remaining at the departments of transportation and commerce, the office of U.S. Trade Representative and the Small Business Administration.


Obama has been under pressure to add to the diversity of his Cabinet. The head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Democratic Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio, sent Obama a letter earlier this month criticizing the president’s choices so far, saying they “have hardly been reflective of this country’s diversity.”
Foxx is black, as is United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and Attorney General Eric Holder.


In last year’s presidential campaign, Foxx received national attention as the mayor of the city that hosted the Democratic convention where Obama was renominated as the party’s presidential candidate.

It should be noted that Foxx has no real experience in the arena of transportation although he has been a staunch proponent of the controversial streetcar project. But then again, what does a little inconvenient thing like “experience” matter to an administration/advocacy team (OFA) stocked full of cronies and other long-time pals and associates from Obama’s Chicago days? While it’s true that you can find cronyism in any Presidential administration, our celebrity President – as a candidate for the nation’s highest office – decried the nature of “business as usual” back-scratching politics in Washington, DC and vowed to be an agent of “change”, which anyone with a functioning brain and not wearing rose-colored glasses at the time could see was a big fat lie. Mayor Foxx did the President a huge favor in doing everything he could to get the DNC to choose Charlotte as the host site for the convention last year (which Democrats wanted in hopes of taking the state for the second Presidential election in a row), and perhaps the President has decided that now is the time to pay back his pal for “services rendered.”

In any event, if Foxx truly is bowing out of politics for good because he wants to be home or desires to take a job that wouldn’t require him to be away from his family for long stretches, more power to him. I salute him for it. But, on the heels of last year’s DNC and how his profile was raised to a national level as a result of it, and two weeks after it was reported he was being seriously considered for the DOT secretary slot, his retirement rationale doesn’t ring quite true. Time will tell, of course, as it always does.

As always, stay tuned.

Foxx and Obama
Rep. Mel Watt, Mayor Anthony Foxx, former Gov. Bev Perdue greet President Obama on a visit to North Carolina.
Photo via Charlotte Magazine

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