Congress, States

In JSC’s district, space is a minor issue for GOP congressional candidates

On Tuesday, voters go to the polls in Texas for party primaries. Among the more interesting races will be the Republican nomination for the state’s 36th congressional district, which is up for grabs after the district’s current representative, Steve Stockman, decided to run against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn in the Republican Senate primary. The 36th district includes, near its southwestern borders, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, so it’s one of the few districts where space policy can be a campaign issue.

However, while the race for the GOP nomination has attracted a dozen candidates, only about half have devoted much attention to space policy, based on the issues sections of their campaign websites, and those who have don’t go into much detail. A review of those who do discuss it:

John Amdur says he is “committed to exploration” on his website, including getting more people into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. “The crown jewel of the U.S. Space Program, JSC has been left to atrophy by indecision and utter lack of leadership in Washington,” he writes. “President Obama needs to stop sidestepping the issue and find a meaningful vision that will support the Space Center that has supported every single American to go into space; when I am in Washington, I will be the loud voice needed for CD-36’s place at the center of Space Exploration and the STEM fields.”

Doug Centilli doesn’t mention space on his issues page, but his website does include an endorsement from Doug Morrell, who was NASA chief of staff when Mike Griffin was administrator. “People who believe in the importance of America’s space program, and the role that the Johnson Space Center plays in human flight, need Doug Centilli in Congress,” Morell states. “Doug has the experience and track record to effectively fight for a strong, visionary and well funded space program.”

John Manlove says we must ensure that “we have continued excellence for our space capabilities” on the issues section of his site. “As your next Congressman, I will work vigorously to support NASA, protect it from any reduction of funding, and to strengthen our leadership in space exploration to ensure our national security and foreign policy objectives are met.” Manlove also won the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle in January in part because he “seeks a new, long-term vision for NASA.”

Kim Morrell only tangentially mentions space when, as a bullet point on the topic of “Military Readiness,” states: “Regain our military superiority in the air, outer space and on the ground.”

Dave Norman is the one candidate with an entire issues page devoted to space, with a similar theme of regaining leadership in space. “Unfortunately, President Obama is content to watch our space program fade away, sacrificed on the altar of an ambitious social agenda,” he writes. “Dave will work to restore our space program and technological leadership in the world through both reinvigorated NASA manned space exploration and with a NASA partnership with commercial space enterprises.”

Robin Riley worked nearly 20 years as a JSC contractor, so, not surprisingly, he has views on “Protecting NASA.” “I strongly encourage the federal government and NASA to work with American citizens and American businesses to research and develop a new vehicle to continue human space flight and maintain American’s leadership in space exploration,” he writes, not explaining whether this “new vehicle” would be different from the Orion vehicle NASA is developing or commercial crew systems also under development.

The rest of the Republican candidates—Brian Babin, Jim Engstrand, Phil Fitzgerald, Pat Kasprzak, Chuck Meyer, and Ben Streusand—don’t discuss space on their campaign sites. (In 2012, Meyer, who also ran for and lost the GOP nomination for the district, proposed a special kind of savings bond called “Space Bonds” to fund human spaceflight.)

With a field this large, the race for the nomination will likely go to a runoff election in late May. The eventual winner of the nomination, though, is likely to win the general election in November. In 2012, Stockman won the district with 70 percent of the vote. While a dozen Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination, only one Democrat is running in the district: Michael Cole, who ran in 2012 as a Libertarian. He also does not discuss space policy among the issues on his site. (A reader does note, though, that Cole does have a blog post about NASA on his campaign website, although not as part of his issues page.)

21 comments to In JSC’s district, space is a minor issue for GOP congressional candidates

  • Vladislaw

    Space, as always, is really a non issue and from the reponses from this field they actually are not even interested enough in space to mention anything currently happening in the space sector.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    The easy explanation for this is that no one is going to be elected in this part of Texas who opposes space exploration, so there is little need to tout it.

    • Hiram

      I would have thought that, if space exploration was important to the voter, why wouldn’t a candidate want to show that he or she has a voice on behalf of it. The voter isn’t stupid enough to think, yep, candidate didn’t say anything about it. That means they’ll be able to defend it! You’d like your legislators to show some competence in arguing the importance of what’s important to you. I rather suspect that, without saying anything about it, JSC-district candidates can’t be assumed to have any more than a reflexive money-in-the-pocket love for space exploration. That kind of attitude won’t garner any respect in Congress.

    • Robert G Oler

      That is the easy answer but not the real one. The Space Industrial complex has taken back seat to several other real industries in the district. thanks for instance to good health care clauses on all the federal contracts in the area…health care is the number 1 industry in the area.

      When Pete O went to a townhall meeting a few years ago to shill for SLS he got an ear ful from Continental employees who wanted to know why he cared more about SLS jobs then theirs.

      the reality is that federal space policy is in shambles due to the blood sucking of dollars from SLS and Orion and no one expects much from it.

      the NASA bypass and HW646 expansion produced more wealth in the community then JSC does. Robert G. Oler

    • Vladislaw

      Not a question of having to “tout” it. It is more about at least giving the impression you have at least a freakin’ clue about what is actually happening in the sector.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    John Amdur: “President Obama needs to stop sidestepping the issue and find a meaningful vision that will support the Space Center”

    Yeah, the nation’s civil space program exists to “support” Johnson Space Center.


    • Dark Blue Nine wrote:

      Yeah, the nation’s civil space program exists to “support” Johnson Space Center.

      Don’t you know? JSC is at the center of the known universe.

      Just ask them. They’ll tell you.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. ”

    Ike (A RINO according to Whittington) in his MIC Speech

    if Ike could come alive today he would be stunned what has happened since his death. Today the US “industrial complexes” are some of the least efficient most expensive and least performing industrial machines around. We are spending more money “per hull” on a LCS (a vehicle about the tonnage of the WW2 Destroyer Escort) then the Japanese Navy is spending on a 13000 ton (aboutt he size of a pre war heavy cruiser and a WW2 Light cruiser) Helicopter “Destroyer” but really a carrier.

    SLS will shortly consume more dollars (in constant ones) then the entire space shuttle build program, and that produced Enterprise and Columbia. And yet we feed these machines and then when they “come up short” in terms of performance we look to see “what they can do”

    A single LCS cannot sink a Japanese “Helicopter Destroyer” but can be sunk by it. There are no missions being built “Now” for SLS and at the build rate (in terms of time) that the SLS missions would take we are soon approaching the time where those projects must start to be ready when SLS will in theory be ready…ie 2021…

    Which again after, consuming more money then the Shuttle system…it will take nearly a decade longer to build.

    This is what people like Whittington are supporting.

    In less kind terms it is PORK

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    This is a strangely obtuse posting considering that we now share a space station with our “greatest geopolitical foe”. The leftist internationalists, well represented at NASA, led us here. They should be held accountable.

    SLS is a crucial weapon in the New Cold War.

  • SMH

    This says it all. JSC has degraded into a joke with diversity paramount.
    The only engineering going on at JSC now with Bolden and Ochoa is social engineering.

    The woman is a whining, ethnocentric, mysandrist

  • guest A

    This is embarrassing, especially for someone who was supposed to have been a valedictorian.

  • guest A

    I’ve run into a few very senior JSC managers in the last few years; some cannot write; some cannot speak; some know nothing about the Shuttle or ISS, despite the fact they were managers in those programs. Most were at least smart enough to get someone to ghost write for them so they could appear to be intelligent. I am surprised that when people get into such a senior position, they don’t have someone go through and try to clean up their past internet presence.

  • Michael Kilcannon

    You stated that Michael Cole the Democrat did not talk about Space at his website… I found this there and it was also published in a local paper….maybe you should do your homework!

    • Jeff Foust

      Thank you for the correction, Mr. Kilcannon, and my apologies to Mr. Cole. As I noted in my original post, he does not include space on the “Issues” page of his campaign website, although as you note he does have a blog post about it elsewhere on his site.

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