PEORIA – Former Peoria Republican congressman Ray LaHood confirmed Monday he is endorsing Democratic nominee Joe Biden in November’s presidential election.
LaHood served as U.S. secretary of transportation during President Barack Obama’s first term and worked closely with then-Vice President Biden.
“We became friends,” LaHood said Monday. “I admire his leadership. I admire his years of public service. I admire the fact that he put out a very strong agenda for ending the coronavirus and for putting people back to work, and fixing a broken immigration system, and trying to get our fiscal house in order.
“So, it was an easy, easy selection for me.”
LaHood, who backed Biden throughout the Democratic primaries, was included on a list posted on Twitter of several Republicans who are endorsing Biden on Monday, the first day of the GOP national convention.
LaHood’s son, Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, is one of Illinois’ convention delegates for President Donald Trump.
“Darin and I are very close. We talk every day,” said Ray LaHood. “We just have a different opinion about the future leadership for our country.”
Ray LaHood said he feels the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic impact have revealed the need for a leadership change.
“The country’s problems are not being solved,” he said. “We have the highest unemployment in the history of the country that anyone can remember, certainly that I can remember–hundreds of thousands of people are out of work. The coronavirus has not been solved, and people are very, very worried. A lot of small businesses have closed.
“We need leadership. We need a plan. We need a vision. And I believe that Vice President Biden really provides that.”
Ray LaHood said he worked closely with Biden on the infrastructure portion of the Obama administration getting a $48 billion stimulus package in 2009. He said his friendship with Biden continued after he left the Department of Transportation following Obama’s first term.
“I think he will really turn the country around, bring the country together and solve some of these enormous, enormous problems that we have,” said LaHood.
Joe Deacon is a reporter with WCBU IN Peoria.