Aviation officials turn to Moran

-- Aug. 26--A week before this month's primary election, executives from Wichita's biggest aircraft companies signed a letter endorsing Rep. Todd Tiahrt in his Senate bid. The letter -- signed by Cessna Aircraft CEO Jack Pelton...

"Aviation is one of our primary industries in the state," Johnston said.

The next senator must be cognizant of that, she said. Kansas aviation companies must have a fair shot at contracts and be included in any bidding process, Johnston said.

She also is an advocate of fair trade policies, as opposed to free trade policies.

"We need to make sure that domestic companies aren't put at a disadvantage," Johnston said.

Aviation executives have also endorsed Mike Pompeo, the Republican nominee for Tiahrt's House seat.

"Collectively, we think Mike Pompeo understands our industry better than any of the candidates running today," Pelton said. "He came from our industry. He's taken the time to really dig into the issues associated with our industry. We think he would be a good transition to follow Todd."

Pompeo spent 10 years as a manufacturing executive.

Aviation is the backbone of south-central Kansas, Pompeo said.

"We've got to do everything we can to make sure we have as many manufacturing jobs and all that goes with it... all throughout Kansas," he said. "I understand what it takes to create jobs in the aircraft manufacturing industry, and I know what the federal government can do to make that impossible."

Raj Goyle , Pompeo's Democratic opponent, said he has a good relationship with the area's aviation executives and the industry. He said he is a supporter of the aviation industry as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives.

"These are serious times, and the aviation industry is in a crisis," he said. The city has lost more than 13,000 aviation jobs in the last two years.

"I intend to make that my absolute first priority if elected in November," Goyle said.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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