CU-Backed Candidate Wins BellweatherHouse Race

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SAN DIEGO - (06/07/06) – Republicans held on to thestate’s 50th House seat Tuesday night with creditunion-backed Republican candidate Brian Bilbray narrowly winning arace widely touted as a key indicator of November’s mid-termcongressional elections. Bilbray, a long-time credit union allyuntil his defeat in the 2000 elections, won almost 50% of the votein this heavily Republican district that had long been held byRandy ‘Duke’ Cunningham, the disgraced congressman whowas sentenced to prison three months ago for his federal convictionon corruption charges. Bilbray's opponent, Democrat Francine Busby,a local school board member who lost to Cunningham in 2004, won 45%of Tuesday's vote. Observers saw the race as an early indicator ofthe electoral mood, five months before the national elections, witha record $25 million poured into it from both Republicans andDemocrats. Virtually all of the credit union money in the race wentto Bilbray,with CUNA contributing the maximum $15,000 (an extra$5,000 because it was a special election); and area credit unionsFirst Future CU ($3,250); Orange County Teachers FCU ($1,000);Wescom CU ($1,000), as well as North Island CU CEO Michael Maslak($1,000); Mission FCU CEO Ron Martin ($500); Evangelical ChristianCU CEO Mark Holbrook ($2,000); First Future CEO Marla Sheppard($1,250); San Diego County CU CEO Rod Calvo ($1,000) and Point LomaCU CEO Ted Dennis ($2,000), all contributing to Bilbray’scampaign. “He was a strong credit union friend when he was inCongress before,” Trey Hawkins, political coordinator forCUNA, told The Credit Union Journal. The Republican Party thoughtso much of the race that they poured more than $10 million into itin the final six weeks, according to records filed with the FederalElections Commission. Now Bilbray and Busby are expected toface-off again in the fall for a full two-year term for the Houseseat.

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