CUNA Boosts Odds In Florida Senate Race With Contributions On Both Sides

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – CUNA, which usually picks a friendly congressional candidate to support, dramatically increased the odds of one of its horses winning the Florida Senate seat by contributing to two leading candidates in the race.

Trey Hawkins, campaigns director for CUNA’s political action committee, explained the PAC in June gave the maximum $5,000 contribution to the campaign of Gov. Charlie Crist, who was running in the Republican primary and now is running as an independent because as Governor Crist had been cooperative with the state’s credit unions.

But then this month CUNA increased its chances with a similar, $5,000 contribution to Rep. Kendrick Meek, a three-time co-sponsor of the CU Regulatory Improvement Act, or CURIA, who is leading the field in today’s Democratic primary.

The dual endorsements will make for a difficult decision if Meek wins today’s primary and faces Gov. Crist in the general election, when campaign laws will allow CUNA to make another $5,000 contribution to one or even both of the candidates, Richard Gose, CUNA’s political director, conceded. “Sometimes you have to reload and that’s what we’ll have to do in this case,” he said. “It does make for interesting politics.”

New polls show Meek, a three-term Congressman, leading millionaire businessman Jeff Greene in the Democratic primary, despite Greene spending a more than $24 million so far. Crist, who fled the Republican primary trailing badly behind Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio, has pulled close to Rubio since declaring himself an independent.

The candidates are vying for the seat vacated last fall by the retirement of Republican Mel Martinez, who was replaced on an interim basis by Crist’s appointment of his attorney general George LeMieux.

CUNA, which runs one of the biggest campaign PACs in Washington, is participating in several key races in today’s primaries. In Arizona, CUNA provided $50,000 for voter communication on behalf of state Sen. Jim Warring, a co-sponsor of the state’s controversial immigration law who is among 10 candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the state’s Third House district.

CUNA made large contributions last month to: Cory Gardner, a Republican state representative in Colorado vying for the House seat in the state’s Fourth congressional district ($10,000); Colleen Hanabusa, the Democratic President of the Hawaii Senate who is running for the House seat in the state’s first congressional district ($7,500); Kansas state Sen. Jim Barnett, the unsuccessful candidate for the state’s first congressional House seat ($5,000); and, Republican state Rep. Kevin Yoder, who is facing Democrat Stephene Moore in the race to succeed Moore’s husband and long-time credit union friend Dennis Moore, who is retiring from the third congressional House seat ($5,000).

CUNA’s PAC, known as CU Legislative Action Council, has contributed more than $2 million to congressional races so far in the mid-term elections, putting it among the top Washington PACs.


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