Dec. 18, 2017, © Leeham Co.: The special US Senate election last week in Alabama drew world attention of the showdown between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore.
Jones eked out a victory, becoming the first Democrat in 25 years to be elected to the Senate from Alabama.
I’m not going to get into all the issues, allegations and political implications of this race. Instead, a new item from Defense News caught my eye about the implications to the Alabama aerospace position in Congress.
Defense News’ headline is eye-catching: “Election leaves Alabama-shaped hole on Senate Armed Services Committee.”
Interests of about 300 aerospace Alabama companies supporting 12,500 job in commercial aviation, space and defense are involved.
Airbus, United Technologies, GKN, VT-MAE (ST Aerospace) and others have a commercial footprint in Mobile on the far south end of the state. Boeing Defense, Space and Security has a big facility in Huntsville in the north end of the state.
With the defeat of Moore, for the first time in 20 years, Alabama won’t be represented on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Alabama’s economic engine is aerospace,” writes Defense News. Former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican, was on the Armed Services Committee until Donald Trump tapped him to be US Attorney General. Alabama’s Luther Strange, also a Republican, was appointed to Sessions’ vacant seat in the Senate and took his spot on Armed Services.
Jones, a Democrat, won’t be going onto Armed Service to replace the Republican Strange; the seat belongs to a Republican under the rules of the Senate.
Alabama’s other Senator, Richard Shelby, serves on the Appropriations Committee. He’d have to give up this seat or get a waiver of Senate rules to allow him to serve on both committees. According to Defense News, Shelby doesn’t plan to do either.
The US Southeast is becoming a powerhouse aviation center. It challenges Washington State and the commercial aviation cluster built up over 100 years to support Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Boeing, of course, chose to locate the second 787 production line in Charleston (SC), the first time it’s sited an airliner assembly line outside the Seattle area. Boeing threatened to locate the 737 MAX line outside Seattle, a threat not taken too seriously. It also threatened to locate the 777X wing production factory and assembly line outside Seattle, a threat it was prepared to carry out if labor didn’t grant concessions. The state also granted tax incentives.
The Southeast was a likely location for the MAX or the 777X. Boeing’s Huntsville (AL) site was one evaluated for the 777X. Mobile was a contender for the 787 site.
As I wrote in previous Pontifications, Mississippi is the site of NASA’s John Stennis Space Center, where testing of every space rocket has taken place. Aerospace companies are located in this state, Louisiana and Florida.
Leeham Co. and Airfinance Journal of the UK are staging a major event June 25-27 in Mobile, the Southeast Aerospace and Defense Conference (SADC). We’ll be talking about commercial aerospace, space, and development of the aerospace supply chain across the entire Southeast.