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 DonnellyLobbying World Lobbying World Overnight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down MORE (Ind.) and GOP House chairmen Reps. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsAs Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges Top Ukrainian justice official says US ambassador gave him a do not prosecute list Dem campaign chief: Medicare for All price tag 'a little scary' MORE (Texas) and Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotHouse passes series of measures hitting Russia, Putin Trump applauded for walking away from 'bad' North Korea deal The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race 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 TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' 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 McCaskillLobbying world Dem candidate has Hawley served subpoena at CPAC Annual scorecard ranks GOP environmental efforts far below Dems in 2018 MORE (Mo.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinFCC claims on broadband access under scrutiny Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote Overnight Energy: Green New Deal vote set to test Dem unity | Renewables on track to phase out coal, study finds | EPA chief reportedly recuses himself from mine review MORE (W.Va.), and GOP Reps. Bruce PoliquinBruce Lee PoliquinThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Maine governor certifies Dem's win in disputed House race, but calls it 'stolen election' GOP lawmaker to drop challenge to Maine's new voting system MORE (Maine) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddGOP's Tillis comes under pressure for taking on Trump The 23 Republicans who voted against the anti-hate resolution House passes anti-hate measure amid Dem tensions MORE (N.C.).