Credit Union-Supported Candidates Win in Northwest Statehouses and at Federal Level
The work continues with opportunities to inform the newly elected how credit unions’ not-for-profit, cooperative structure serves America.
Whether they asked for their ballots early, voted by mail, or stood in lines stretching for blocks and lasting for hours, a record number of Americans voted last week. While the Credit Union Movement does not raise funds or advocate for presidential candidates, 96 to 98% of federal and Northwest candidates supported by credit unions won their contests.
In the Northwest
More than one million Idahoans voted, setting a new record. Republicans maintained a majority in the statehouse. In the House of Representatives, two new Republicans were elected, increasing the GOP majority to 56-14. The Senate held its 29-6 Republican majority.
Ninety-six percent of candidates supported by the Credit Union Legislative Action Fund (CULAF) were successful in the 2020 election cycle in the Gem State.
“Credit unions have strong relationships with Idaho legislators,” said Ryan Fitzgerald, NWCUA’s Vice President of Legislative Affairs for Idaho. “We have an opportunity to build on that, with 22 newly elected legislators taking office in January. Through our meetings during the campaign, we learned that at least 14 of them are credit union members.”
Oregon voters also turned out in record numbers, with 2.3 million casting ballots. Voters gave the nod to 98% of candidates supported by credit unions, according to Pamela Leavitt, Policy Advisor for Oregon State Advocacy.
Of the 90 members of the Oregon Legislature, 17 will be new in the 2021 session. These new members are in addition to the more than 20 members that were new in the last session. This continuous turnover in the legislature gives advocates the opportunity to demonstrate how credit unions are improving their members’ financial well-being every day.
In addition to success electing credit union-friendly candidates to the legislature, credit unions supported three key winners in the races for Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General.
In Washington, Democrats held their majorities in the House and Senate, however, about 20 new legislators are expected to take office in January, depending on the outcome of some races where ballots are still being counted.
“It will be important for credit union advocates to continue to lean in and connect with the newly elected officials,” said Joe Adamack, Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Washington.
While many are longtime credit union members, Adamack noted, NWCUA and advocates will be working to ensure others have the opportunity to learn how credit unions’ not-for-profit structure benefits consumers and communities.
In the Northwest, federal candidates who were on the ballot retained their seats. The Senator majority will be determined by voters in Georgia in January. Both Senate seats are up for grabs in a runoff election. Leadership of the important Committee on Finance is likely to be in the hands of a Northwest Senator regardless of the outcome. If the Republicans maintain control, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo is likely to become Chair. If Democrats win control, the likely Chair will be Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.
A handful of seats in the House remain too close to call, however, it appears Democrats lost four seats and Republicans gained five.
“Credit unions supported 362 candidates for Congress, and 97% of them were elected,” said Samantha Beeler, NWCUA’s Vice President, Advocacy. “Our support is determined not by political party, but by candidates’ support of credit unions and their 120 million members nationwide. Heading into the next Congress, we are well-positioned with strong relationships, which we will continue to build on.”
Your Voice is Needed
In the first quarter of 2021, four virtual events will give advocates the opportunity to meet with their state and federal lawmakers. NWCUA will host virtual “Day at the Capitol” events in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference is scheduled for March 2-4. Meeting dates, logistics, and policy agendas will be announced in the coming weeks.
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