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 Donnelly2020 politics make an immigration deal unlikely in lame-duck Mellman: The triumph of partisanship The Memo: Dem hopes for 2020 grow in midterms afterglow MORE (Ind.) and GOP House chairmen Reps. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsCongress is going to make marijuana moves McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses MORE (Texas) and Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotRepublican Steve Chabot wins reelection in Ohio Election Countdown: One week from midterms, House battlefield expands Major GOP group leans into immigration, tax law in final week 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 TrumpMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Avenatti denies domestic violence allegations: 'I have never struck a woman' Trump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa 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 McCaskill2020 politics make an immigration deal unlikely in lame-duck Mellman: The triumph of partisanship The Memo: Dem hopes for 2020 grow in midterms afterglow MORE (Mo.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSchumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Mellman: The triumph of partisanship Senate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle MORE (W.Va.), and GOP Reps. Bruce PoliquinBruce Lee PoliquinElection Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February GOP rep sues over Maine's new voting system Election Countdown: Recount prospects grow in Florida | Abrams team to sue over absentee ballots | Dem wins pivotal Georgia House seat | A look at the uncalled races | Corporations spend big to beat ballot measures MORE (Maine) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddRepublican Ted Budd holds off challenger to win reelection in North Carolina Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide Jockeying already stepping up in House leadership fights MORE (N.C.).