Election Results Shuffle General Aviation’s Fortunes

 - November 6, 2008, 10:41 AM

Congressional aviation committee and subcommittee leaders from both sides of the political aisle held onto their seats Tuesday, but some long-time friends of general aviation fell by the wayside. With 99 percent of the vote tallied by late afternoon yesterday, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee, appeared to have retained his seat. But fellow GOP senators want the long-time GA pilot to step down following his conviction on federal felony charges. First-term Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.), a member of the Senate Transportation Committee who helped scuttle a $25 user fee on GA turbine flights, lost to Democratic former state governor Jeanne Shaheen. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), who supported pilots in his state and voted to strike the $25 user fee from the Senate’s FAA reauthorization bill, lost to Jeff Merkley, a Democrat who has been speaker of the Oregon House. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), an aircraft owner and pilot, lost out to Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in a bid to replace retiring Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.). Also ousted was Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), a long-time active pilot and aircraft owner whose GA credentials were considered stellar. He lost to Democratic contender Larry Kissell, an educator with no previous elective experience.