In their final debate of the long 4th District congressional campaign, Mike Pompeo and Raj Goyle offered sharp contrast over how to deal with the Hawker Beechcraft labor dispute, with Goyle advocating incentives aimed at keeping the company in Kansas and Pompeo arguing for systemic changes to the business environment.
In a debate at KSN-TV on Wednesday, both expressed hope that management and the Machinists union can reach an accord that will keep the company in Wichita.
But that was about all they agreed on.
Pompeo, a Republican national committeeman, leaped on the Hawker Beechcraft question to criticize Goyle's 2008 election support for President Obama and his support from aircraft workers' unions.
Never miss a local story.
"If we could get the president, that Raj Goyle worked so hard to elect, to stop making fun of corporations that are flying around in Wichita-built airplanes and making it politically incorrect to do so, we'd have a lot more aircraft jobs right here in south-central Kansas," Pompeo said.
Specifically on Hawker Beechcraft, Pompeo said, "I hope the union bosses that are supporting my opponent can find a way to keep those good jobs here in Kansas."
Goyle, a Democratic state representative, fired back that as a legislator, he helped give Gov. Mark Parkinson the authority to negotiate an incentive deal in an effort to keep most of the Hawker Beechcraft jobs in Kansas.
"In fact it's one of the reasons Gov. Parkinson endorsed me in this election," Goyle said.
Although Machinists union workers recently rejected a contract offer that included a 10 percent pay cut, Parkinson has said the incentive package remains on the table if union workers and management can settle their differences.
Pompeo said the federal role in business should be to lower taxes and reduce regulations to create a business climate "where risk takers are rewarded."
"The congressman from the 4th District of Kansas can do a lot to make sure there is a welcoming environment in south-central Kansas for jobs and job creators," Pompeo said.
Goyle responded: "What's interesting is that you didn't hear Mr. Pompeo talk about the real issue. He opposes those incentives for private-sector companies."
However, Goyle said, Pompeo doesn't oppose them enough to keep from seeking and accepting tax-funded incentives for his own businesses.
"He opposes them for Hawker, he opposes them for other companies, but he takes them to pad his own bottom line," Goyle said. "We've had enough of that hypocrisy."
The Eagle has reported that Pompeo's former company, Thayer Aerospace, got at least $85,000 in business development support from the Kansas Department of Commerce. And his current company, Sentry International, has been granted $406,000 in job-creation aid from three cities in Oklahoma and Texas.
Pompeo has said that as a CEO, it is his responsibility to his investors, employees and their families to keep up with competitors in seeking economic-development aid packages, although he would prefer that they not exist and all companies compete on a level playing field.
Pompeo and Goyle traded some familiar campaign barbs.
Goyle criticized Pompeo for creating jobs in China and Mexico and repeated his demand that Pompeo disclose how many workers in China build products for Sentry and what they're paid.
Pompeo criticized Goyle for his previous jobs as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington think tank.
Reform Party candidate Susan Ducey lashed at them both for focusing so much campaign time and money on those issues.
"Well, we've all seen the ads: Raj has never had a real job and he's not a straight shooter, and Mike is going to outsource all the jobs to China and Mexico and he doesn't want to bring any of them back here," she said. "Do we really want this grade-school playground... backbiting and name-calling to be what represents us in Washington? It doesn't represent me."
Ducey cited health care and Social Security and same-sex marriage as areas where the federal government has intervened in violation of the Constitution.
The fourth candidate on the ballot, Libertarian Shawn Smith, adhered closely to his party's message of having the least amount of government possible.
He said if elected, he would immediately work to freeze and then begin cutting taxes, eliminate Social Security and withdraw U.S. troops around the world.
By voting for Republicans and Democrats, we can "continue down the road to serfdom," he said. Or, he added, "we can turn back toward liberty."