President Donald Trump's second choice for labor secretary is a substantial upgrade over his first choice. R. Alexander Acosta, a former federal prosecutor in South Florida and dean of Florida International University's law school, has a strong record of leadership and is highly regarded as a pragmatist. He also would be the first Hispanic in the president's Cabinet.
Acosta, 48, served as U.S. attorney in South Florida during President George W. Bush's second term. His office prosecuted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and pursued corruption cases involving Palm Beach county commissioners and the Broward County sheriff. Acosta also spent a short time on the National Labor Relations Board and later was assistant attorney general overseeing the Justice Department's civil rights division.
A Miami native, Acosta is a far better fit for labor secretary than Trump's initial nominee. Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder withdrew Wednesday when it became clear he might not win Senate confirmation following questions about his business practices and personal life.
Acosta also has some issues. The Miami Herald reports he was a favorite to become the University of Florida's law school dean until questions arose about a 2004 voting rights case in Ohio, when he supported allowing citizens to challenge voter credentials — a practice known as "vote caging" often aimed at suppressing the black vote. Acosta has indicated he was following Justice Department orders, but senators should question him about it.
On this redo for labor secretary, Trump has chosen a native Floridian with a solid record in his community and a professional demeanor. Acosta appears well-qualified, and the Senate should promptly schedule confirmation hearings.