CUs Work On Cultivating New Class Of Lawmakers

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In recent years CUNA has made special efforts to build relationships with not only the long- time power-brokers on Capitol Hill, but those future players who still have their eyes on Congress.

With large turnovers in the House in recent years, most of it due to retirement, the strategy has borne new friends who appreciate the help of the credit union lobby in getting elected.

This year is no different with CUNA seeking out and selecting perspective allies throughout the country who may prove to be credit union friends down the road. In May, CUNA made contributions to an unprecedented 14 candidates for open congressional seats.

CUNA's political action committee, or PAC, made the maximum $10,000 contribution ($5,000 each for a primary and general election) to Rob Bishop, a Republican candidate for the House in Utah, to David Waters, a Democratic candidate for the House in Oklahoma, and to James Talent, a Republican candidate for the Senate in Missouri.

Contributions also went to the following candidates for open seats: Stan Matsunaka (D-CO) $5,000; Martha Clark (D-NH) $5,000; Jim Cooper (D-TN) $4,500; Linda Sanchez (D-CA) $2,500; John Norris (R-IA) $2,500; Brent Siegrist (R-IA) $2,500; Scott Garrett (R-NJ) $2,500; Jim Gerlach (R-PA) $1,000; Jim Hensarly (R-TX) $1,000; Gresham Barrett (R-SC) $5,000; and Senate candidate Ed Bryant (R-TN) $5,000.

Some of these newcomers are known entities to CUNA. Talent, for example, is a former CUNA-backed House member who lost his bid in 2000 for election as Missouri governor.

He is expected to be nominated to face off against Jean Carnahan in the race for the Missouri senate seat. Carnahan, the wife of the former Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, was appointed to her seat when her husband and son died in a plane crash during the 2000 senate campaign.

Sanchez is the sister of Loretta Sanchez, the Democrat whom CUNA helped defeat long-time House member Bob Dornan. If Linda Sanchez is elected it would be the first time that sisters served together in the House.

CUNA's PAC raised $148,001 and spent $179,655 in May, leaving it with $340,899 cash on hand as the congressional campaign season nears its climax.

CUNA, which has built its PAC into one of the most powerful in the Capitol in recent years, has already spent more than $2 million on campaign activity and is sure to exceed the $3 million mark for the first time by the end of the current two-year election cycle.

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