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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Gregoire, 6 other govs applaud Boeing tanker plan

OLYMPIA -- Gov. Chris Gregoire led a group of seven governors Thursday patting The Boeing Co. on the back for joining the competition over the new Air Force tanker.

Not that there's any surprise that Boeing would get into the competition. After all, it has been trying to get the Air Force to buy or lease new tankers from it since 2001, and basically drove a stake through the heart of the Air Force's plan to give the bid to Northrop Grumman/EADS back in 2008 over changes in the bidding rules. Not cmpeting this time would have lots of people wondering what the heck was all the fuss about two years ago.

Boeing said it will propose a tanker version of its 767 design, which is the same airframe it has been talking about using since 2001.

Northrop Grumman/EADS (what some Northwest politicians like to call the Airbus group) has not yet announced it will enter the competition with the new specs that were released earlier this week.

Also Thursday, a group calling itself "Build Them Both" is asking governors around the country to write President Obama with a request that the Pentagon build both models as a create the jobs, help the economy measure. It released letters from governors in Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio and West Virginia suggesting just that. Curiously enough, none of those governors are among the ones that joined Gregoire in saying, essential "Go Boeing."

OK, so it's not THAT curious. Most of the Boeing-ers have that company's operations or subs in their region.

So will Gregoire sign on to the Build Them Both campaign?

Answer inside the blog

"No, the governor will not sign on to Build Them Both," Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren said. "She's been a supporter of a fair competitive process, and this would remove all competition."

The Pentagon also does not like the idea of building, operating and maintaining two different tankers. Build Them Both is trying to counter that with the argument that the Air Force will eventually have to replace all its KC-135 tankers, and plans to do it in three phases. It should just do phase 1 and 2 at the same time.

To which Boeing and Northrop (if it gets into the competition) would probably wind up arguing that the Pentagon should by their plane for both phases...

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.