The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's political action committee (PAC) achieved success this week as some 90 percent of its supported candidates were elected to Congress.
Of the 26 AOPA-supported candidates for the Senate, 22 were victorious. One race (Washington) remains too close to call.
In the House of Representatives, 104 of 115 AOPA-supported candidates won on election night. This resulted in success rates of 85 percent in Senate races and 90 percent in House races.
While the outcome of the presidential race remains uncertain, AOPA President Phil Boyer noted that it's Congress that "carries the big stick" when it comes to U.S. aviation policy.
"While the president can set the terms of the debate," said Boyer, "at the end of the day it is Congress that really decides how general aviation will be treated. And Congress has treated GA well, particularly when it comes to FAA structure and financing."
Boyer said that AOPA members were key to the AOPA PAC's political success. "Members contributed an unprecedented amount to the PAC this year and responded in extraordinary numbers to our requests to contact Congress." He noted that it is these voluntary contributions, not AOPA member dues, which support the association's political activities.
AOPA's success in the 2000 election cycle was aided by mailings encouraging AOPA members to vote for candidates who support GA. AOPA PAC mailed over 60,000 pieces of mail in support of 15 House and Senate candidates. Of those 15, 11 were elected.
AOPA's efforts may have played a significant role in the reelection of Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) as well as representatives (and AOPA members) Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) and Charles Bass (R-N.H.).
Election night also saw victories by AOPA members Senator Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) and former pilot Tom Osborne (R-Neb.).
However, not all GA supporters did as well. With thousands of votes still left to count in the state of Washington, Senator Slade Gorton might be facing an upset. The race was too close to call when this was written.
AOPA member John Kline lost his bid to unseat Representative Bill Luther in Minnesota and the widow of Governor Mel Carnahan defeated Senator (and pilot) John Ashcroft of Missouri.
Overall, House Republicans lost several hotly contested seats but were able to maintain control of that chamber by a small majority.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, the fight for control of the Senate was much closer. Despite the loss of seats in Missouri, Michigan, Delaware, and Florida, Republicans appear to hold a 50 to 49 edge in that body of Congress, with Gorton's seat still in question.
For additional information on the 2000 elections, visit the AOPA Web site.
The AOPA Political Action Committee chooses to support candidates on a strictly bipartisan basis, backing those who support general aviation and who have a reasonable chance of winning election. The AOPA PAC is one of the largest and most effective candidate-support programs in the country.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than 57 percent of U.S. pilots, 70 percent of the nation's flight instructors, and 75 percent of general aviation aircraft owners are AOPA members.
November 9, 2000