WASHINGTON -- Community bankers lost one of their most sympathetic voices on Capitol Hill with the defeat in a primary election Tuesday of Rep. Carroll Hubbard Jr. of Kentucky.
The nine-term Democrat, who had long been regarded as a shoo-in to retain his seat, led the fight in 1991 against the Bush administration's effort to reduce levels of deposit insurance coverage.
Rep. Hubbard apparently fell victim to the House Bank scandal -- he reportedly wrote 152 bad checks -- and the general anti-incumbency mood.
John Lawson, a banker who supported Rep. Hubbard, said a low turnout was also to blame.
"People are showing a lackadaisical attitude toward voting because they are just fed up," said Mr. Lawson, president and chief executive officer of Bank of Ohio County, Dunded, Ky.
Rep. Hubbard won plaudits from community banking constituents by opposing the too-big-to-fail doctrine and supporting efforts to reduce regulatory burdens.
Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America, termed Rep. Hubbard's defeat "a tremendous loss."
"He understood community banks, he understood agriculture and the role of community banks in financing it, and he understood the role of deposit insurance," Mr. Guenther said.
Without Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Guenther said, the administration might have prevailed last year in its effort to trim deposit insurance coverage.
In its first test, at a House Banking subcommittee, the administration lost by only one vote.
A Shifting Balance
"One of the things that has to concern the banking industry is that Hubbard was part of a group of Democrats that tended to go along with Republicans on the committee, particularly on issues involving regulatory burden, added Edward L. Yingling, head of government relations for the American Bankers Association.
Even before Rep. Hubbard's defeat, the House Banking Committee faced the prospect of a major turnover of ranking members next year.
The panel's No. 2 Democrat, Rep. Frank Annunzio of Ill., is retiring, and its third most senior Democrat, Rep. Stephen L. Neal of North Carolina, faces a tough race. Rep. Hubbard ranks fourth.
Meanwhile, a special master appointed by a federal court proposed a congressional redistricting plan for New York that could jeopardize reelection prospects for two senior Democrats on the committee: Rep. Charles E. Schumer of Brooklyn and Rep. John J. LaFalce of Buffalo.
The plan may force Rep. Schumer to run in either a new, majority-Hispanic district of against another popular incumbent, Rep. Stephen Solarz.
Rep. LaFalce, the banking panel's fifth-ranking Democrat and the chairman of the Small Business Committee, would face another banking committee member, Republican Bill Paxon.
Given Rep. Hubbard's track record in previous elections, most bank lobbyists -- as well as bankers in the lawmaker's rural western Kentucky district -- assumed he would win handily in the primary and general election.
Rep. Hubbard ran unopposed in five of his nine previous elections and ran up commanding majorities in the others.
This year, he had entertained hopes of building a political dynasty by helping his wife, Carol, run in a separate district. She also lost in the primary.