Credit unions didn’t win them all in Tuesday’s state primaries, but the industry did score some major wins in California and New Mexico, according to CUNA and the California and Nevada Credit Union League.
“Between the state and federal races, we had a 98% success rate on campaigns we were in involved in, including some pretty high-profile races,” said Bob Arnould, senior vice president of governmental affairs at the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. “We pretty much cleaned up last night.”
Supplemental capital bill author Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) defeated fellow congressman and challenger Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) by 10 points in the redrawn 30th district. Although both will advance to the general election in November, Sherman’s primary victory gives him momentum, Arnould said.
While 10 points in an impressive number, Berman won’t “fold up and go home”, he said.
“Berman has plenty of resources,” Arnould said. “It will still be a dogfight.”
Credit unions also scored a victory in the 44th district, with Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) defeating Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) with 60% of the vote. Both will advance to the general election and both have histories supporting credit unions. However, Hahn has supported credit unions to a greater degree, said CUNA spokesman Pat Keefe, so she received the trade’s backing.
Other credit union House primary victories in California include League- and CUNA-supported candidates Republican Tony Strickland in the 26th District, Democrat Juan Vargas in the 51st District and Republican Brian Bilbray in the 52nd District.
“Tony Strickland’s victory was significant, as he’s a long-time supporter of credit unions in state legislation,” Arnould said of the current California state senator who now advances to the general election for the U.S. House of Representatives.
In New Mexico, current U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) strongly defeated his challenger for a Senate seat up for grabs after Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), announced his retirement after nearly 30 years in the Senate. Heinrich’s Republican challenger in November will be former representative Heather Wilson.
Also in New Mexico, credit union candidate Ron Griggs won the GOP primary for state Senate District 34. Griggs, who has credit union ties, was running against the chair of the New Mexico Independent Bankers.
Credit unions did lose one race in California, when former Arrowhead Credit Union employee Pete Aguilar failed to lock up enough votes in the 31st District to advance to the general election.
Arnould said Democrat Aguilar is a casualty of California’s new “top-two primary” rules, in which the two highest vote-getters will advance to the general election, regardless of party. Four Democrats split the primary votes, resulting in the two Republican candidates winning the top two vote positions in a historically Democratic district.
“At the time open primary was adopted, everybody agreed there would be some odd results, and this is one of them,” Arnould said.