Conventional wisdom has it that Democrats are pro-big government and Republicans are pro-big business; oversimplistic, perhaps, but illustrative nonetheless of one of the major differences between the country’s two major political parties. Two Congressional races in Florida are providing additional proof that, when it comes to space policy, those philosophies are reversed.
In Florida’s 15th Congressional District, immediately south of the Kennedy Space Center, Rep. Bill Posey (R) is running for reelection and making space—and jobs—a major issue in his campaign, according to Sunshine State News. The thousands of jobs that will be lost when the shuttle is retired will come “at a worse economic time” than the end of the Apollo era (when Posey himself was laid off from McDonnell Douglas). As for creating jobs from commercial space ventures, he sounds skeptical: “(The Obama administration) keeps talking about this great commercial space market, but… there are no specific plans for exploration.” By contrast, his likely Democratic challenger, Shannon Roberts, is more positive about the prospects for commercial human spaceflight. “(Private companies) are really ready to take this on. I think it’s very timely,” she said.
In the neighboring 24th Congressional District, which does include KSC, incumbent Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D) supports something like the compromise NASA authorization bill the Senate passed earlier this month, providing some funding for commercial crew development while pushing NASA to start immediate development of a hevy-lift vehicle, she tells Florida Today. Most of the Republicans who are vying to run against her in the general election, though, are either quiet on the subject of commercial spaceflight or opposed to it. In the words of one candidate, Tom Garcia: “I don’t think you can just turn it into a commercial industry. It needs to stay under government control.” An exception is Deon Long, who said he supports “privatizing low-orbit missions”.