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 DonnellyEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown MORE (Ind.) and GOP House chairmen Reps. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsTop 10 events of 2018 that shaped marijuana policy Washington braces for lengthy shutdown Lawmakers shrug off shutdown drama MORE (Texas) and Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump headed to border as shutdown hits Day 20 | Talks fall apart | Emergency plan could set up clash with GOP House passes resolution calling for release of Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar This week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush 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 TrumpSunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal Rove warns Senate GOP: Don't put only focus on base Ann Coulter blasts Trump shutdown compromise: ‘We voted for Trump and got Jeb!’ 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 Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (Mo.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Bipartisan group of senators will urge Trump to reopen government for 3 weeks MORE (W.Va.), and GOP Reps. Bruce PoliquinBruce Lee PoliquinMaine 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 GOP lawmaker to appeal judge's ruling upholding Maine's new voting system 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.).