In a new approach to political action in state races, the Michigan Credit Union League is endorsing Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra in his bid for governor in the Aug. 3 state primary.
The league leadership maintains it is taking what it called an internal political risk by officially supporting the Holland, Mich., congressman in the race to succeed Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who is barred by term limits from running again.
David Adams, league president/CEO, said despite its long, close relationship with Granholm and Democratic lawmakers, Rep. Hoekstra remains the favored candidate based on his overall record as well as his unbending CU support over the years and his willingness "to stand up to the bankers in his district."
Calling its early endorsement an enterprising means of showing support for a longtime industry friend, Adams cited Hoekstra's CU track record as an early supporter of H.R. 1151 and as a co-sponsor of CURIA among other citations.
In favoring Hoekstra over four other GOP aspirants, the league said "Congressman Hoekstra has been a champion for policies that help the consumer and these values align with those of the credit union movement."
"These values are what Michigan needs as it rebuilds its economic strength and strengthens the vital financial interests of its citizens," Adams said, noting the endorsement had undergone lengthy study by the MCUL board.
He said directors took into consideration the strong Democratic leanings among many union and urban CUs in the state but felt CU advocacy was paramount in supporting Hoekstra.
"In this case, we asked those in the industry to put aside personal considerations and support someone who has been a stalwart backer of credit unions," Adams concluded.
For his part, Hoekstra, who represents the second district and has served nine consecutive terms in the House, called the MCUL endorsement "a momentum builder."
Recent Michigan polls show Hoekstra holding a lead over his GOP opponents, State Sen. Tom George, Attorney General Mike Cox, businessman Rick Snyder and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.
Running on the Democratic side are Andy Dillon, speaker of the state house, and Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero,
Adams told Credit Union Times that the support of Hoekstra should not detract from the close ties Michigan CUs have with the Granholm administration in support of business alliances and on regulation. Adams cited the fact that a former league employee, Ken Ross, is now CU commissioner.