Thursday, November 6, 2008

Leagues, CUs make difference in state elections

MADISON, Wis. (11/6/08)--Many credit unions and leagues Wednesday were assessing the successes of candidates they supported in their state's elections. The verdict: credit unions made a difference.

Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), supported by the Washington Credit Union League, was declared the winner in that state's gubernatorial race by media outlets. However, Gregoire's challenger, Dino Rossi, who lost the race four years ago by fewer than 150 votes, had not conceded by press time.

By Wednesday afternoon, Gregoire had 53.3% of the vote compared with 46.6% for Rossi, pretty much assuring a Gregoire victory, Mark Minichiello, league vice president of legislative affairs, told News Now. The league conducted fundraisers and gave financial support to Gregorie, Minichiello added.

Re-elected to a third term was New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) over challenger Joseph Kennedy.

"The New Hampshire Credit Union League congratulates Gov. Lynch on his resounding victory [75% to 25%] on Tuesday," said Dan Egan, league president. He told News Now that Lynch "is a great friend of the movement, who clearly understands the important role that credit unions play in the financial life of the people of New Hampshire. He has been extremely supportive of credit union financial literacy programs and has gone out of his way to attend and spend time at credit union annual meetings throughout the state."

North Carolina Democrat Beverly Perdue became the state's first woman governor. Both Perdue and her opponent, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, are well-versed on credit union issues, Mickey Fanney, grassroots/political action specialist, North Carolina Credit Union League, told News Now.

"Credit unions worked with both campaigns to make an impact on the candidates' views and perspectives on credit union issues in the state," Fanney said. The league "looks forward to working with Gov.-elect Perdue over the next four years."

In North Dakota, Republican Gov. John Hoeven, a former banker whose family owns and operates several state-chartered banks, soundly won re-election for a third term with 75% of the vote, Jeff Olson, political affairs/public relations director for Mid-America Credit Union Asssociation, told News Now.

"Gov. Hoeven's re-election is only the second time in the state's history that a governor was awarded a third term," Olson said. "However, he is the benefactor of Republican majorities in both chambers. He will enter the upcoming legislative session with a budget surplus of $1.2 billion. The North Dakota Governmental Affairs Committee supported Gov. Hoeven with a significant Credit Union Political Action Committee (CUPAC) contribution.

"The governor's race was the only constitutional race we supported. The rest of our CUPAC contributions went directly to legislative candidates," he added. "Gov. Hoeven addressed credit union professionals at our recent legislative forum in Bismarck this past October."

In Utah, Republican Jon Huntsman was easily re-elected to second term as governor with roughly 73% of the vote. The Utah League of Credit Unions did not participate in the gubernatorial race, instead focusing on supporting credit union-friendly candidates in the state House and state Senate, Steve Hunter, league director of government affairs, told News Now.

The Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) supported 88% of the candidates that were elected in the state, including incumbent Gov. Jim Douglas (R).

"We've had a pretty supportive state legislature in the last session," AVCU President/CEO Joe Bergeron told News Now. AVCU expects the same support--or more--in the next session, he added.

Delaware's Rep. Mike Castle (R) was re-elected. "He has been accepting of meeting with credit unions," Alice Smith, director of communications for the Delaware Credit Union League, told News Now.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) was elected vice president of the U.S., and so the Delaware governor will have to appoint a new senator. The league is looking to establish new relationships with that individual, Smith said.

"We'd love to have a meeting with Biden," she added. "We're very proud that Delaware has the vice president of the U.S."

The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) endorsed eight candidates who were elected:

U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R-District 2);
U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-District 7);
U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-District 3);
State Sen. Tim Green (D-District 13);
State Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-District 19);
State Rep. Charlie Denison (R-District 135);
State Rep. Albert Liese (D-District 79); and
State Rep. Paul LeVota (D-District 52).

Clint Zweifel, a longtime credit union supporter, was elected as state treasurer. During his campaign, Zweifel said he is open to working with credit unions on legislation to allow credit unions greater flexibility in reaching out to consumers with alternatives to payday loans (The Missouri Difference Nov. 4).

State Rep. Judy Baker (D-Columbia), lost her bid in the Congressional District 9 race. Baker had pledged credit union support, saying "Your values are my values."

"We would have enjoyed having Baker in Congress," Amy McLard, MCUA vice president of public and legislative affairs, told News Now.

Jay Nixon was elected Missouri governor. MCUA met with Nixon's campaign staff before the election. "We look forward to working with him and building on that relationship," McLard said.

In Indiana, all incumbent congressmen won, and all support credit unions, said the Indiana Credit Union League.

"We were especially pleased to see that CURIA co-sponsors Brad Ellsworth (D-8) and Dan Burton (R-5) won their races with 65% of the vote," said league President John McKenzie. "The league and Indiana credit unions helped both campaigns by hosting fundraisers. In the instance of the Ellsworth campaign, Evansville Teachers FCU President Mike Phipps held a fundraiser at his home that raised more than $10,000 for the campaign."

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