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 DonnellyGinsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle Watchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world MORE (Ind.) and GOP House chairmen Reps. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsTenth Congressional Black Caucus member backs Biden Giuliani held phone call with Maduro amid Venezuela crisis Texas GOP rep predicts heavy Democratic presence in state ahead of 2020 MORE (Texas) and Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotKoch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Judiciary Committee abruptly postpones vote on articles of impeachment Parties clash as impeachment articles move closer to House vote 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 TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' 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 McCaskillThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade McCaskill: 'Mitch McConnell has presided over absolutely destroying Senate norms' Claire McCaskill: Young girls 'are now aspiring' to be like Warren, Klobuchar after debate MORE (Mo.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (W.Va.), and GOP Reps. Bruce PoliquinBruce Lee PoliquinThe 5 most vulnerable senators in 2020 Maine Democrat announces he'll vote for only one article of impeachment against Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Mass shootings put spotlight on Trump, Congress MORE (Maine) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddKoch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says The Hill's Morning Report - Vulnerable Dems are backing Trump impeachment The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage MORE (N.C.).