CUNA Says Its Election Efforts Were a Big Success (Monitor: November 3, 2010)
The credit union movement rode the wave that swept Republicans to power in the U.S. House, but also managed to help Democratic friends in Congress avoid losses.
Speaking in a conference call wrapping up the election, CUNA President and CEO Bill Cheney said Washington is going to see dramatic change in 2011 and many of the new faces will be credit union supporters.
“Overall, I think we came out very well,” Cheney said.
Republicans took control of the U.S. House, but Democrats held onto the Senate.
The biggest disappointment for credit unions was the loss of credit union champion Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., despite support from the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association as well as CUNA.
“The wave was just too much. We were just overcome there,” Cheney said.
Cheney pointed out that with about 100 new members of Congress, not to mention potentially thousands of new staffers, the association will have its work cut out for it in reaching out to all of the new faces. He called on state leagues and credit unions to help reach out to those new members.
Trey Hawkins, CUNA’s vice president of political affairs, emphasized the point by saying that credit union people should call and write to the campaign staffs of their new senators and representatives. He said the key will be following up on those messages to try to get face time with the new members of Congress.
At the same time, Richard Gose, senior vice president of political affairs, said the new members are eager to start developing those relationships.
“They want to start with constituent relations immediately,” Gose said.
Gose said that Kanjorski also faced a tough battle in 2008, but credit union support was enough to push him over the top that year.
“The only difference was the wave,” he said.
Hawkins said that out of 358 races in which CUNA’s PAC, CULAC participated, it won 302 and lost 48 with the others still too close to call. In the Senate, CULAC played in 31 of the 37 races, winning 26 and losing four with one still undecided.
He said that CUNA supported seven incumbent challengers and were successful in beating six of them.
“We feel like we replaced with someone who is more pro credit union,” Hawkins said about the incumbents it helped to take down.
Gose said with the 2010 election in the books, the 2012 presidential campaign essentially begins now, meaning this Congress will likely not tackle much important legislation. He said the House Republicans will emphasize smaller government, less regulations and focus on deficit reduction. He said CRA issues are less likely with Republicans in power, but MBL legislation might be appealing. On the flipside, Gose noted that bank lobbies also have plenty of friends within the GOP.
He added that since Washington will be governed by gridlock, House Republicans might call a lot of hearings.
One major coup is that Michigan Rep. David Camp, R-Midland, the MCUL’s Federal Legislator of the Year, is expected to be named chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.