Among the Democratic House committee chairs swept away last night in the tsunami of John Boehner’s tears was Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), the gavel wielder for the Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

His loss leaves a vacuum among those who would like to reform the way we fund transportation--especially those advocating more competitive and merit-based processes like a National Infrastructure Bank. Oberstar was also expected to lead on the reauthorization of the federal transportation spending bill. (The current iteration is known as SAFETEA-LU).

Though themes of competition and merit did appear occasionally in this year’s election rhetoric--mostly drowned out by “special interests,” “wasteful spending,” and “Washington insider,” however--it remains to be seen what sort of tack a GOP controlled House will take on transportation in what, ostensibly, is the post-earmark era.

Oberstar’s loss also means that Jane Robbins of Pine City, the lone home district contributor to his reelection campaign in the third quarter of 2010, will not get a new driveway.