WASHINGTON-Given the strong Republican showing on Election Day 2002, President George W. Bush can finally declare the mandate he did not receive in his own election. Many feel the emphasis on the War on Terror has helped Republicans accomplish what few predicted: keep the House and win the Senate with a seated Republican president. As of deadline, Republicans were claiming 51 seats in the Senate, while Democrats held onto 46 plus one Independent. Two seats are still up in the air, though some have claimed South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson (D) the winner in his race; it's only by a few hundred points and is expected to be challenged. Johnson was seeded against Bush-favorite Representative John Thune (R). The other case is Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who won the highest percentage of votes (46%), but did not make the required 50% among four candidates. Under Louisiana law, she will enter a run off December 7. Democrats had 36 seats not up for reelection, Republicans had 29, and the Independent was not running. "It was a good day for credit unions and a good day for America," CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica, a former lawmaker himself, declared. Mica's brother, Congressman John Mica (R-Fla.) whom CULAC has always supported, won reelection by a good margin. But just because the elections look favorable to credit unions, the fight is never over, he reminded the credit union community. "We have an awful lot of work to do," Mica said. "Over 10% of the entire House is brand new. They're going to have to be educated. They're going to have to be informed as to the credit union difference-who we are, what we are, what we stand for." He also pointed out that credit unions have an edge with some Capitol Hill plebes because they were involved in the state legislatures and are already acquainted with the leagues. However, he expects lawmakers to be inundated by false information from the bankers, as occurs after every election. Mica said he feels the House is in good shape. With Congressman John LaFalce's (D-N.Y.) retirement, Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who ran unopposed, will take over the ranking member seat on the House Financial Services Committee and Congressman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio), who easily won reelection, will remain the chairman of the committee. The Senate side is a little more tentative for credit unions. While current Senate Banking Committee Chairman Paul Sarbanes is generally considered a credit union supporter, he has recently questioned credit unions' commitment to fulfilling their historical, statutory mission, as demonstrated during the confirmation hearings of the two newest board members. On the other hand, if Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) takes over leadership of the committee as expected next session, he will likely raise privacy issues, like tightening Title V of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which are also high on Sarbanes' agenda. Overall, however, CUNA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs John McKechnie commented, "We feel very good about the composition of the major committees that we're going to be working with in the next Congress." Credit unions made enormous efforts to get their political favorites elected for the 108th Congress. Both the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) of CUNA and NAFCU/PAC had record setting election cycles for fundraising in 2001-2002. According to NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler, NAFCU/PAC raised approximately $84,000 in 2002 in time for the elections, its highest year ever, and around $115,000 for the cycle, another record for the small political action committee. To bolster funds into the PAC this year, NAFCU began selling beanbag teddy bears and Capitol Hill calendars, which were highly successful. NAFCU's larger sister organization, CUNA and CULAC raised a record $2.8 million and made $2.1 million in contributions. More than half (55%) went to Republican candidates, while the remainder went to Democrats. During the last mid-term election in 1998, CULAC raised just $1.3 million and distributed $1 million. CULAC was involved in 359 out of 435 House races and won 347 of those, losing just 11. Of the 47 open seats in the House, CULAC was involved in 42, winning 37 and losing just four with one left undecided. In the Senate, CULAC gave to 26 of 34 candidates, winning 22, including Senator Johnson, and losing four. "I want to attribute this to an elevation of recognition within the credit union system that political activity is important, and when you look at Hike the Hills, you look at Project Zip Code, you look at all the things that we're doing, that helps the growth of the PAC and the PAC helps the growth in the grassroots. You really do get a synergy. You really do start to feed off one another," CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose explained. "Credit unions have proved that 1) they can deliver the votes.and 2) we're willing to get involved in very tight, very contested races.," he said. CUNA also started its Credit Union Champions campaign this session, highlighting six credit union supporters facing particularly stiff competition. Credit Union Champion, Congressman Dennis Moore (D-Kan.), won a tight race in a largely Republican state against Adam Taff (R-Kan.), obtaining 50% of the vote to Taff's 47%. Congressman Clay Shaw (R-Fla.), also among CUNA's champions handily won reelection to his 22nd district seat with 60% of the vote. North Dakota's only congressman, Earl Pomeroy (D) also won a close race against Republican State Tax Commissioner Rick Clayburgh, 52% to 48%. Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), who introduced the regulatory relief legislation (H.R. 3951) strongly supported by credit unions, won her rematch against multi-millionaire trial attorney Jim Humphreys in a mainly Democratic state. While their 2000 contest kept Capito to just 48%, the incumbent beat Humphreys by a 20-point margin (60% to 40%). Senator Johnson, Credit Union Champion who introduced the deposit insurance reform bill in the Senate (H.R. 3717), is facing Congressman John Thune (R-S.D.) in a race that is still too close to call. Currently, Johnson has the lead with 50% of the vote with Thune trailing only slightly at 49% with 99% of precincts reporting. Unfortunately for credit unions, bankruptcy abuse reform author Congressman George Gekas (R-Pa.) lost his race, 49% to 51%, against fellow incumbent Tim Holden (D-Pa.). While Holden has been supportive of credit unions in the past, their choice of Gekas in the race will mean CUNA will have some explaining to do. McKechnie explained that CUNA and the leagues would have to simply convince Holden that "it wasn't an anti-Holden move on our part; it was a pro-Gekas move." NAFCU's Thaler explained that NAFCU/PAC had given to Gekas before the match up with Holden was announced but afterward did not contribute to either side. Pennsylvania, the state with the most credit unions, turned out to be a mixed bag for credit unions in the mid-term elections last week. Credit unions were able to maintain ardent credit union supporter Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), whom the credit unions had given extra support to early on when it looked like he also would have had to face an incumbent. CUNA had asked credit union leaders across the nation to send money into his campaign. Additionally, credit union friendly Financial Services and Small Business Committees Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) won his third two-year term with 57% of the vote, and Financial Services Committee Member Melissa Hart (R-Pa.) won her second term. Illinois, home of the speaker of the House, demonstrated great support for the status quo by reelecting many incumbents in the state, particularly those with jurisdiction over financial services. Credit union-backed Representative Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.), chair of the Small Business Committee and a member of the Financial Services Committee, skated to reelection winning 71% of the vote. In a race that pit incumbent against incumbent in the House, CUNA supported winner John Shimkus (R-Ill.) over Small Business Committee Member David Phelps (D-Ill.). Redistricting forced a total of four such races this election year. House Financial Services Committee Members Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) were all reelected. Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the powerful International Relations chair and Judiciary Committee member instrumental in striking a deal on the Schumer amendment in the bankruptcy reform bill, was elected to his 15th term with a comfortable 65% of the vote. Other key leaders include Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), whom credit unions had supported, easily won reelection with 74% of the vote. Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee Member Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) will also return to his seat in 2003. Ohio also had a solid concentration of Financial Services Committee Members in its delegation that were reelected, including Chairman Oxley. Other Ohioan credit union supported committee members included Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), H.R. 1151 author; Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio); Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who ran unopposed and is looking at introducing further regulatory relief legislation; Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio); and Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio). Mica noted that the next election cycle will be the first after the campaign finance reform effort, which he feels should benefit credit unions. "Until [the Republican and Democratic National Committees] come up with another way, campaign finance reform means that people who have actual hard dollars to give are very, very important. People who have good grassroots organizations are extremely important and people who generally have the public behind them are extremely important. I ask you to measure that against what the banks have." [email protected]

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