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Originally published February 24, 2011 at 6:30 PM | Page modified February 24, 2011 at 10:53 PM

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Politicians jubilant at unexpected Boeing victory

The Air Force decision favoring Boeing's tanker bid was met with jubilation by Washington's congressional leaders during a news conference...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Air Force decision favoring Boeing's tanker bid was met with jubilation by Washington's congressional leaders during a news conference in downtown Seattle.

Sen. Patty Murray said she received the news in a call from the U.S. Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz, just before the official announcement.

"He said to me that it was won because of Boeing's ability to meet all the requirements at the best overall value. That is fantastic news," Murray said.

Clearly Washington's delegation had been preparing for bad news. Rep. Jay Inslee sent out a news release Thursday afternoon that praised the tanker decision. But the e-mail's subject line read: "Decision Will Not Stand" (It was corrected a few minutes later to say "Best Choice Made for Next Gen Tanker".)

Murray said she'd stayed awake rehearsing what she'd say if Boeing lost the contract. "Absolutely, this weighed on us heavily."

"I think back about all of those times when people said to me, 'When are you going to give up on this batttle?' And I can say today, winning this is why I never gave up. It's why none of us gave up," Murray said.

Rep. Norm Dicks, who has served for more than three decades on the Defense Appropriations Committee, called the tanker decision "our greatest victory in the history of the state."

Sen. Maria Cantwell cited President Obama's recent State of the Union address, where he spoke of "winning the future" by restoring America's competitive edge.

"That's exactly what Boeing workers have done in winning this bid," Cantwell said. "It means for a long time coming the Northwest will continue its excellence in avaiation manufacturing"

The victory came despite what Inslee and others contended was a deck stacked against Boeing. The delegation had tried but failed, for example, to get the Pentagon to officially take into account illegal subsidies that its rival Airbus had received.

Cantwell said "EADS was given every possible advantage, and Boeing still won a clear and convincing victory."

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