CUNA Steers Clear Of Negative Ads

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WASHINGTON – In a congressional campaign distinguished by its attack ads assailing candidates of both parties, CUNA and credit unions kept out of the mud by focusing on the positive.

So the 40,000 brochures CUNA and the Pennsylvania CU Association sent to credit union members in one congressional district focused on the positives of the credit unions’ candidate, Democratic Paul Kanjorski, and his support of credit union legislation. “Our efforts are positive and focus on the credit union message. None of our stuff was attacking a candidate or negative, but focused on the accomplishments of our candidates,” said Trey Hawkins, deputy political director for CUNA, of the so-called partisan communications CUNA and its state leagues financed on behalf of allied candidates.

Marking a different approach to this year’s elections, CUNA spent more than $300,000 on partisan communications, sending direct mailings to voters in a targeted district through their credit unions.

The partisan communications were another way CUNA was able to reach out directly to voters in a district without going through a candidate. CUNA also spent almost $1 million this year to finance independent expenditures, which by law may not be coordinated with a candidate. This way CUNA stepped into some of the most contentious races in the country with its own script, including Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who CUNA backed, and the Missouri Senate seat, for which CUNA supported Republican Congressman Roy Blunt.

This year’s partisan communications included pieces favoring Democrat Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, who has become a solid credit union supporter in Congress, Democrat Larry Kissel of North Carolina, who has gone to bat for credit unions on member business loans and card interchange, and for several other allies.

Georgia Republican Rob Woodall, Kansas Republican Kevin Yoder, Ohio Republican Steve Stivers and Arizona Republican Jim Waring (who lost in the primary) all were beneficiaries of CUNA-financed partisan communications.

The financing of partisan communications for seven candidates this year represented an expanded campaign game for CUNA, which was spending more on independent ads for candidates the last two elections.

“We think it’s better to work with the congressman; better to be able to work with the candidate’s campaign through a partisan communication,” said Richard Gose, political director for CUNA, said in explaining why it chose the partisan mailings over independent ads for Kanjorski.


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