CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx were to become President Barack Obama’s next transportation secretary, state law says very little about choosing his replacement.
The White House remains mum on Foxx’s candidacy. The president, however, has been publicly pressured by African-American leaders to add more diversity to his Cabinet.
Foxx, who in the past has described the president as “a friend,” is the youngest mayor ever elected in Charlotte and the second African-American to hold the post.
The mayor is to appear Wednesday with acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris. The two will headline a minimum-wage round table at First Baptist Church-West.
Asked Tuesday whether Foxx remains in the running for the transportation post, White House officials wouldn’t confirm whether the mayor is a candidate.
If Foxx leaves his seat early, he would do so in an election year. Voters will choose the city’s next mayor in November.
Under state law, the City Council would select a replacement to complete Foxx’s term. The members don’t face a time limit for making the choice, City Attorney Robert Hagemann said.
While the city has a mayor pro tem, the interim mayor could come from the council or the public at large. The council is only required to pick someone from Foxx’s political party. He is a Democrat.
Foxx, first elected mayor in 2009, is finishing his second term. No mayor in recent memory has left office early.
Open City Council seats have occurred, most recently when the late Susan Burgess resigned in 2010 toward the close of her fight with cancer.
In those cases, the council traditionally appoints replacements who pledge not to run for a full term, in order not to give anyone a political advantage.
In Burgess’ case, the members appointed Jason Burgess, who served the final 18 months of his mother’s term.
Speculation about Foxx’s future grew throughout the lead-up to last summer’s Democratic National Convention. The mayor toured the country to raise money and campaign for Obama.
When the president left Charlotte after the convention, he and Foxx hugged on the tarmac before Obama boarded Air Force One.
Foxx, a Charlotte native, has previous Washington experience. He held jobs with the Justice Department and the House Judiciary Committee.
He has said that he decided to first run for elected office while watching the smoke from the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
If he were to leave, the city would face a decided shift of power at the top. Ron Carlee took over as city manager on Monday.
If nominated, Foxx faces a confirmation vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., wouldn’t comment on the mayor’s chances but complimented him all the same.
“Mayor Foxx has done a terrific job leading the city of Charlotte,” she said through a spokesman. “I’m not surprised his name would be mentioned for positions of national leadership.”