Man, I should have gotten on the ball sooner, I had this intel a while ago, but was too busy playing with my kid’s PS8 they got for Christmas. So here’s the deal, the Washington Post is reporting that David Craig is going to be named Secretary of the Department of Planning and out-of-stater Pete Rahn to be Secretary of the Department of Transportation (in full disclosure, I knew he was going out of state, I did not have a name).
Here’s the juice though. Craig had interviewed for Secretary of Transportation, it’s what he wanted and it’s what everyone in Annapolis assumed to be the case. But he bombed the interview. The Hogan folks didn’t trust him to be a team player and thought he would be too likely to go out on his own like a cantankerous John McCain. So they offered him Planning. He turned down Planning and suddenly, over the Christmas holiday time frame, his associates started spreading word that he turned down MDoT (or maybe he left it vague and everybody filled in the blanks for it being MDoT). Planning is such a big step down that the Annapolis insiders had all written the planning job as something that would be offered to Aaron Tomarchio, Craig’s former number 2. In the end, Craig came back around to accepting the Planning post – realizing that he had no other option to continue in government.
It was already written that Craig would lead MDoT, to the point where insiders were looking at hiring Craig’s children to get an inside edge: Transportation is that big of a deal. Planning, he’ll probably have trouble getting people to return his call. And the reason the assumption was there is because looking around the state there wasn’t much to choose from. When Ehrlich tried to go out of state with a pick for a Cabinet Secretary, the Democrats destroyed her and sent her into a limbo. The risk for Hogan is that the Democrats will choose this position to target as well to make their point, and they’re going to do it just once.
But Pete Rahn is a huge pick. He has led the Transportation Departments for Missouri and New Mexico. He did an absolutely crazy thing in Missouri where in order to reduce the cost of a highway project, he actually shut down the existing highway in 5 mile stretches. Think of it as someone shutting down I-83. It cut 4 years and $200 million off the project at a time when most projects come in over budget and over time. This isn’t a guy the Democrats will be able to make an example of, especially when they all lauded former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith’s selection, someone who before serving as CE was a Judge.
Speaking of Baltimore County, another person experiencing some hurt over the selection of Pete Rahn is Baltimore County Councilman David Marks. He’s widely viewed as the Republican Subject Matter Expert when it comes to Transportation. He was formerly the number 3 person at MDoT and then went on to serve in USDoT and is currently working as a Transportation consultant. He apparently really wanted the position. The former number 2 person at MDoT, Jim Ports (formerly of Harford County as well), is also doing a lot of the heavy lifting during the transition and will most likely serve in the same capacity under Rahn.