New AOPA Chief Ready
He calls himself an "equal opportunity antagonist" and he's ready to get down to business with the new Democratic regime — even though he's spent his whole career as a top Republican advisor. In a session with the aviation media at AOPA Expo in San Jose on Saturday, incoming AOPA President Craig Fuller said bipartisanship is alive and well in the backrooms of Washington and he's no stranger to the people who will help President-Elect Barack Obama take the reins of power. He knows Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel from the 1990s when they worked together on implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and says he'll have no problem getting heard in Congress and the White House. But he also said that might have to wait a while.
As others said during the convention, Fuller said aviation matters will take a back seat to more pressing matters. "I doubt we'll get a mention in [the] inaugural address," he said. But FAA reauthorization, ATC modernization, airport expansion and other hot button issues in the aviation world will be dealt with eventually and AOPA will be at the table when they are discussed. He said AOPA is well respected in Washington because of its bipartisan nature and he stressed the importance of putting the issues forward to the policy makers. He also offered an olive branch to the airline industry, which was, at times, harshly criticized by the GA community in the battle over user fees. Fuller said it was a "fight that had to be fought" but the entire aviation industry has to work together to put the U.S. back at the forefront of technological development in aviation.
AVweb's video interview with Fuller