One victory in the US elections may prove to be an aviation bright spot. In Illinois, Chicago Democrat Rod Blagojevich won the governorship. As followers of the O'Hare airport saga know, a major reason that ORD has remained so congested is the political balance of Illinois: The Democrat-dominated City of Chicago runs the airport, which is located in the heavily Republican northwest suburbs. For three decades, the state has had Republican governors who depended upon northwest suburban NIMBY votes. So the airport still has its 1960's-era, traffic-snarling snowflake runway pattern.
As a Congressman, Blagojevich strongly supported the Daley-Ryan plan to modernize O'Hare. The whole reason that Mayor Daley, and outgoing Republican Gov. George Ryan (who no longer had anything to lose), got together with Illinois' Democratic Sen. Durbin, (and senators of both parties around the Midwest), to come up with Federal legislation protecting the plan was....to protect O'Hare expansion from future Republican Illinois governors!
The legislation passed the US House but was blocked in the Senate by Illinois NIMBY-champion Republican Peter Fitzgerald. So Durbin, Iowa Sens. Grassley and Harkin, and other O'Hare expansion supporters will need to start over in the spring. For now, though, there's not the urgency there was this past year, where it looked like O'Hare expansion depended upon getting the Daley-Ryan plan legislation approved by Congress before Ryan leaves office. We have a few years to work with if needed.
Even if airline travel remains weak, of course the plan should still be pushed strongly. O'Hare's location and market base will keep it a superhub airport regardless of, say, UA's fate. The snowflake runway pattern has to go, in order to protect jobs and keep a major national airport strong--even if there isn't any growth for a few years.
I'll note that as a Republican, I'm very happy with the Republican victory in the US Congress. But in this race, there may be the above bright spot from the Democratic victory.
Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)