Oklahoma's CUs Gamble On Senate Challenger

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In a risky political gamble, credit unions here are working to support Democratic Gov. David Walters in his bid to unseat Republican Sen. James Inhofe, one of just six senators to vote against HR 1151. "It's a matter of simply saying, 'The incumbent senator was not there when we needed his help,'" said Oklahoma league President Bob Bianchini, of the two-term incumbent.

Opposition to congressional incumbents, who win more than 98% of races, is another sign of how emboldened the credit union lobby has become as CUNA and its state league affiliates have also thrown their support to challengers in several other races around the country. In this one, CUNA has contributed the maximum $10,000 allowable for a primary and general election to Walters even before the primary.

Separately, another HR 1151 foe in the Oklahoma delegation, 10-term House member Wes Watkins, one of just eight congressmen to vote against the landmark CU bill, will not be returning to Congress as his seat was eliminated due to redistricting and he will retire.

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