Larry Downing/Reuters

Some campaign for years (decades, even) for the privilege to lead, but Anthony Foxx is closer tonight than most ever get to the presidency. If crisis strikes tonight, Foxx, the U.S. secretary of transportation, would become the nation's 45th president.

Foxx is the designated survivor during this year's State of the Union address, which means he'll be holed up in an undisclosed location while President Obama, his cabinet, and Congress pack into the House chamber for Obama's sixth annual address. If the worst came to pass—despite a bristling security presence—Foxx would take Obama's place in the Oval Office.

If Secretary Foxx became President Foxx, he would be the the nation's second African-American president. Like Obama, Foxx earned a post-graduate degree in New York City (Obama graduated with a bachelor's from Columbia; Foxx got his J.D. from New York University).

As transportation secretary, Foxx oversees more than 56,000 employees and handles a budget of more than $70 billion. But he's also got experience as an elected leader: In 2009, Foxx became the youngest ever mayor of Charlotte, N.C., the country's 16th most populous city.

As mayor of Charlotte, Foxx made job creation his focus, a familiar theme in all of Obama's previous State of the Union addresses. Foxx ran as a Democrat—he was the first Democrat to win Charlotte's mayorship in more than two decades—but was an uncontroversial pick for the post he currently occupies. He was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in June 2013.

If Foxx were to become president, he would inherit brewing fights over Iran and Cuba, immigration, and the Keystone XL pipeline, to name a few. Let's hope he's a quick learner.

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