WASHINGTON (11/8/12)--Sen. Jon Tester's victory in Montana, called shortly before noon (ET) yesterday, embodies the success of many credit union-friendly candidates in the Nov. 6 federal elections, even for those in very tough fights.
Overall, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supported 388 candidates for the House and Senate in Tuesday's election, and in 96% of those races the credit union-friendly candidates won.
Tester, with whom CUNA, Montana Credit Union Network and Montana credit unions worked with closely on interchange issues and concerns, defeated Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg to win a second term in the Senate. Tester received CUNA and credit union backing in the form of mailers, volunteerism, phone banking, fundraisers and neighborhood canvassing.
In comments made during a call Wednesday reviewing the election outcome for state credit union league representatives and CUNA board members, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney noted "there are a lot of people in Washington that said it was impossible for Tester to be reelected in one of the reddest of red states." However, he said, credit union efforts helped push Tester over the top.
Tester's success story is indicative of a large majority of races that had credit union backing.
Similarly strong efforts were made in support of successful Senate candidates Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).
Overall, CUNA and the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) supported candidates in 361 House races and 33 Senate races. As of Wednesday, CULAC-supported candidates had won 336 of their House contests, with 12 races remaining uncalled. CUNA, CULAC and credit unions supported candidates in 27 of 33 Tuesday Senate races, with their candidates winning 26 of those contests.
Tuesday "was a great day for credit unions overall and the races in which we were focused," Cheney said. "All in all, it was not a bad night," CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose added.
CUNA and CULAC supported five challengers in their races against sitting incumbents, and three of those challenges were successful. In New York, Dan Maffei (D) and Chris Collins (R) defeated sitting House incumbents, with assistance from CULAC financed independent expenditures.
Another challenger was soon-to-be-former East Moline, Ill. Alderwoman Cheri Bustos' (D), who defeated Republican incumbent Bobby Schilling. Bustos "will prove to be a strong credit union champion for credit unions from Illinois," CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins said.
Credit union champions Rep. Brad Sherman (R-Calif.) and Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) also won their respective incumbent-versus-incumbent contests with the help of credit unions, including radio ads for Latham that were financed by CULAC. Both Sherman and Latham were pitted against fellow legislators due to redistricting in their states.
CUNA was involved in 50 of 59 races for open and newly created legislative seats, and credit union supported candidates won in 44 of those contests. "When there is no incumbent, CUNA and credit unions take the opportunity to speak with both legislators in the race to assess which will best support credit unions," Hawkins said.
Cheney congratulated all the leagues and credit unions in every state on their political advocacy efforts surrounding the federal elections.
While there were a few losses, CUNA, CULAC and credit unions continued to support pro-credit union candidates in what were in some cases uphill battles. While the losses are disappointing, Gose emphasized that CUNA will work with incoming legislators, even if they have defeated credit union friends.