PEORIA — Former U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood formally endorsed John Kasich for president Friday morning.

The Peoria Republican, who also served as U.S. secretary of transportation, has been named a co-chair of the Ohio governor’s campaign in Illinois.

“I served alongside John Kasich in Congress when he was chairman of the Budget Committee and led the way to balance the federal budget,” LaHood said in a prepared statement. “I have always admired his ability to bring people together to get things done. His record of results is unmatched in this field, and I am certain that he is the best leader to unite our nation.”

The former lawmaker has been outspoken about the need for civility in political debate, both while in office and after returning to private life. While in Congress, he organized a series of annual bipartisan retreats for lawmakers to get to know one another and develop ways to improve the institution’s discourse.

His memoir, “Seeking Bipartisanship: My Life in Politics,” repeatedly addresses the topic and emphasizes the opportunity to disagree on partisan issues while remaining civil.

LaHood served for 14 years in Congress after working for more than a dozen years on the staff of his predecessor, U.S. Rep. Bob Michel. He’s one of only a handful of people in American history to have crossed party lines to serve in a president’s Cabinet.

Chris Kaergard can be reached at 686-3255 and ckaergard@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.