Credit union group to spend $1.8 million for vulnerable Dem, GOP incumbents

Credit union group to spend $1.8 million for vulnerable Dem, GOP incumbents
© Greg Nash

The political arm of the largest U.S. credit union trade group is spending $1.8 million on ads supporting a bipartisan group of House and Senate incumbents facing close races in the November midterm elections.

The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) political action committee has purchased digital, radio and mail ads backing vulnerable Democratic Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyWatchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Ind.) and GOP House chairmen Reps. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsFourth defendant in Giuliani associate case taken into custody at New York airport The Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren Former GOP lawmaker Pete Sessions subpoenaed over dealings with Giuliani associates MORE (Texas) and Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotConsequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears Judiciary approves new investigative powers with eyes on impeachment Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE (Ohio).

All four have played crucial roles advancing legislation favored by credit unions, but are defending their seats in hostile political conditions in November.

“The common thread through all of these are incumbents that have been strong champions for credit unions on the issues and need the help,” said Trey Hawkins, vice president of political affairs for CUNA.

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CUNA’s Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) will spend $525,000 on digital ads and direct mail supporting Donnelly and $250,000 on radio ads backing Tester, co-authors of a major regulatory rollback for credit unions.

Hawkins said the regulatory rollback was just one of several reasons the group is backing Tester and Donnelly, who are both members of the Senate Banking Committee. He also cited their support for protecting the credit unions’ exemption from corporate income tax.

“It’s part of the equation, but it’s certainly not the only one,” Hawkins said of Tester and Donnelly’s support for Dodd-Frank rollbacks. “They were champions for credit unions on issues we were concerned about, and they have their backs against the wall.”

Tester and Donnelly and are running for reelection in states that overwhelmingly back President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Support for impeachment inches up in poll Fox News's Bret Baier calls Trump's attacks on media 'a problem' MORE and are among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats. The CULAC ads don’t mention the senators' support for looser financial rules, but tout their efforts to protect seniors and health care for veterans.

The ads also aim to distance the moderate duo from national Democrats by touting Donnelly’s “[fight] for Hoosier values” and praising Tester for being “as Montana as Montana gets.”

On the House side, CULAC is backing two top GOP chairmen who face tight races in November. The group will spend a combined $200,000 on TV, radio and digital ads for Sessions and Chabot touting their support for tax cuts and IRS oversight, along with a website supporting Sessions's reelection.

Sessions leads the powerful House Rules Committee, while Chabot chairs the Small Business Committee.

CULAC will also spend $76,000 on direct mail supporting Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), who’s trailing his Republican opponent in recent polling.

CULAC is also supporting several other endangered incumbents through communications from its member credit unions, including Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillIranian attacks expose vulnerability of campaign email accounts Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest MORE (Mo.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (W.Va.), and GOP Reps. Bruce PoliquinBruce Lee PoliquinThe Hill's Morning Report - Mass shootings put spotlight on Trump, Congress Ex-GOP lawmaker from Maine says he won't run for his old seat in 2020 Making the case for ranked-choice voting MORE (Maine) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddSEC reforms will save job creators time and money Girls Little League softball champions get invitation to White House House conservatives call for ethics probe into Joaquin Castro tweet MORE (N.C.).