Oberstar’s defeat stuns aviation community

After 36 years in the House of Representatives, Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) went down to defeat and his congressional seat will be taken over by a former airline pilot, an event that has members of Washington’s general aviation community shaking their heads in disbelief. A Democrat, he was swept away by what he termed “a national wave.”

Oberstar was chairman of the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee when the Democrats controlled the House and served as ranking minority member when Republicans had the lead. At no time in his 18 elections had he received fewer than 59% of the vote. His loss Tuesday was by slightly more than 4,000 votes out of more than 270,000 ballots cast.

Despite his work over the years on aviation and other transportation issues, it was other issues that caused his downfall. According to The Duluth News Tribune, Oberstar faced constituents angered about federal bailouts, stimulus spending and health care reform, which he supported.

One Washington aviation leader said in his opinion no one in the House of Representatives had a greater knowledge of aviation issues than Oberstar. He continually opposed user fees on general aviation and worked diligently to pass reauthorization of the FAA.

A former pilot for Northwest Airlines, Chip Cravaack, will replace Oberstar in the next congress.


  1. Mark C says

    Socialism doesn’t work. Pilots, more than anyone, should understand this, as our priviliges are not just handed to us, they have to be earned. Mr. Oberstar supported socialist policies, and, thank goodness, the majority of the American people do not. I’m sure that there are those in government who will represent the important interests of the American people, who can be educated on the issues facing GA.

  2. says

    I am not from Minnesota, but I imagine that Mr. Oberstar served the corporate interests of his district rather well to survive for 36 years in the congress. While I disagree vehemently with his support of cramming ethanol down our throats to the detriment of aviation, apparently the corn farmers of Minnesota and ethanol industry had a very good opinion of him. It is only every two years that the politicians actually pay any attention to the people who put them in office, and now you have spoken, but I don’t expect that Mr. Cravaack will have a much different viewpoint towards the corporate interests of his district. After all, did any of you write to Mr. Oberstar and request that he change any of his stances on the issues you so vehemently disagreed with him on? Will you communicate your concerns to Mr. Cravaack? It is my observation that we get the government we deserve and now we have invoked the spirit of Herbert Hoover and we will drive this country further down the road to third world status, unless the politicians stop listening to their corporate sponsers who only care about corporate welfare, less regulation, lower taxes, cheaper labor and a public bailout if they screw up big time. Face facts, we have the best congress money can buy, and all of those new faces you are so hopeful about are just as well bought as the bums you threw out. We have had more than three decades of trickle down economics and corporate welfare for cellulosic ethanol. Neither one of them has worked.

  3. says

    AOPA is like the NRA – a single issue organization.
    They both need to get their head out of their myoptic tunnelvision and take a look at the bigger issue.
    If we lose the country to the liberals both the AOPA and NRA will become irrevelant.
    I would expect a NWA pilot to be well versed in what even general aviation reequires

  4. Lardo says

    A coule of weeks ago AOPA sent out an email saying how important it was to re-elect EVERY member of the GA Caucus. That nearly caused me to end my AOPA membership. As much as I care about the health of general aviation, there are more vital concerns that take precedence. Guido is correct. I would much rather lose one member of the GA Caucus, then lose our Constitutional Republic.

  5. Buck says

    His lack of support of the Loran system and its shutdown did not help also the TTF policy of the FAA and
    his backing of it goes against the want’s and needs of the cities and towns that need to offset the expense
    of maintaining their airports.

  6. Kent Misegades says

    It was not a wave, but the result of America’s continued shift back to the Right. Other than aviation, Mr. Oberstar has been on the wrong side of too many issues in recent years and should not be terribly surprised by his loss. His voting record has run counter to the sentiment of the nation on most key subjects, in particular stimulus, Obama-Care and bailouts. Look at the bright side – he was replaced by an NWA pilot who has not been infected by Potomac Fever for 36 years. Welcome, Mr. Cravaack. Enjoy retirement, Mr. Oberstar, in a great part of the nation for aviators, Minnesota.

  7. Charles Perry says

    Another liberal bites the dust—good! Too bad ma,nv,ny and ca didn’t kick out barney, harry, chuck, and barbara! But, at least we made a start.

    Support congressional term limits!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Guido Bisogno says

    To put our needs ahead of actions that drag the whole country down makes us just another selfish special interest group that should be slapped down! This is just as bad as a union that supports a politician just for what he/she does for them and to hell with the impacts on everybody else. Good riddance.

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