By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna has earned the endorsement of one of the state’s most influential aerospace groups.
On Thursday, the Aerospace Futures Alliance announced its first-ever endorsement of a political candidate, embracing Republican McKenna’s bid for governor. An industry interest group, AFA lobbies on behalf of the state’s 720 aerospace-related companies. Its board consists of representatives from Boeing, state community colleges, Mukilteo aerospace supplier Electroimpact, Everett maintenance company Aviation Technical Services and other government and commerce groups.
“The success of AFA’s member companies has meant tens of thousands of family wage jobs for our state,” McKenna said in a statement. “I will help this industry remain globally competitive long into the future.“
AFA previously has contributed to at least two candidates’ campaigns: $900 to House Speaker Frank Chopp and $1,600 to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s 2008 campaign.
Another influential group in the industry, the local District 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, already has given its endorsement to McKenna’s opponent, Democrat Jay Inslee. The local IAM represents nearly 30,000 Machinists who work for Boeing in the Puget Sound region.
In interviews with the Herald published in March, both candidates identified the need to maintain a steady pipeline of aerospace workers as the main challenge facing the industry in the state.
Boeing and its suppliers are increasing jet production rates. The company also faces a many retirements in the coming years, both Machinists and engineers. As a result, Boeing has upped hiring in Washington, adding 2,850 workers through the end of June. Company officials have said employment will level out this year but hiring to replace workers who retire still will require Boeing to hire thousands of workers.