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WASHINGTON-The Credit Union Legislative Action Council of CUNA has already thrown its hat into a few elections this cycle that are already shaping up. First, CULAC is backing Alice Forgy Kerr, a Republican from Kentucky, according to CUNA Political Director Karen Kincer, in a special election in the 6th District. Incumbent Ernest Lee Fletcher (R) recently gave up his seat after winning the gubernatorial race. Additionally, CULAC has contributed to Stephanie Herseth, a Democrat from South Dakota, for the at-large seat in the U.S. House. A few open seats that CULAC is already active in is the California 20th district where Congressman Calvin Dooley (D) is retiring. CULAC is backing Democrat Jim Costa for the seat. Also in California, House Financial Services Committee Member Doug Ose (R) is retiring and CULAC is supporting Thomas “Rico” Oller (R) to take his spot. Finally, committee member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is retiring and CULAC is backing Republican Charlie Dent. CULAC has contributed the maximum for a primary election in these seats. A few credit union friends will face some tough races this year. The most difficult will be House Financial Services Committee Members Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) and Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), and Congressmen Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Max Burns (R-Ga.). CUNA Vice President for Political Affairs Richard Gose noted that CULAC has dabbled in independent expenditures in the past for campaign advertising and is looking for opportunities to do more this cycle. However, Gose explained, “Redistricting has really changed the landscape.” There are not that many tight races out there, mainly because lawmakers have the art of redistricting down to a science to maintain control of certain seats, he said. Whereas CULAC is normally monitoring 70 to 80 close races, this cycle that number is down around 30, according to Gose. It its important for credit unions’ voices to be heard at election time, he stressed, so people need to get involved and get involved early. “The folks down in Georgia have done independent fundraising and attended events,” Kincer pointed out. Part of getting credit unions more involved is having the right tools, CUNA Political Programs Director Pat Raymond said. During the Governmental Affairs Conference, CUNA will be holding a Project Differentiation workshop. She said it helps emphasize the credit union difference with members of Congress, because something like offering checking accounts for $5 is easy to comprehend. CULAC will also be working to raise awareness of the new Federal Election Commission advisory opinion allowing credit unions to provide matching charitable contributions, CUNA Political Action Committee Manager Mica Evans added. “We’re in the process of trying to put some materials together and get a buzz going,” she said. CULAC will be promoting this new option during GAC. “This is a great opportunity to tap into something that’s already a part of credit unions,” Gose commented. In another first, CULAC will also be running a campaign school, where they prep candidates considering a run for public office, during the GAC. -

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