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WASHINGTON-Hundreds of credit union representatives packed into CUNA’s Election Fair held last week at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill as part of CUNA’s National Hike the Hill Month and to get some words of wisdom from those who know politics best. Trouble is, credit unions already know what they are doing. Credit unions serve as a “model to show other people what to do” in lobbying, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. He said the bankers are catching on. “Yeah, they’ve got stickers, too,” he quipped, referring to the “I’m a credit union member and I vote” stickers credit union representatives were wearing. Congressman Mike Michaud (D-Maine), a board member of Eastmill FCU, recommended to his audience that they take advantage of the tools CUNA has created “to make a difference this election.” Aside from Hike the Hills, CUNA has also set up Project Zip Code and Project Differentiation among other programs. “I will continue to work with you as long as I continue to be a member of Congress,” he vowed. Political analyst Charlie Cook of The Cook Political Report told his credit union audience, “When the bankers came after you in 1998, I personally thought you guys were toast.” The grassroots the credit unions were able to pull together made the ending very “David and Goliath” he said. That just demonstrates the importance of having a strong political action committee and grassroots. Cook complimented CUNA’s professional lobbyists, but said “The most effective lobbyists in this room aren’t these guys…” he said; it is the people in the trenches who do the volunteer lobbying. Graham agreed, calling credit unions’ grassroots support “indispensable.” But credit unions have to maintain that momentum, Cook said. “You’re not paranoid if there is somebody out to get you,” he added. As for the November elections, Cook offered, “There’s no realistic chance the House is going to go Democrat.” There is a 75% chance of Republicans holding the Senate, he wagered. The White House will rest on what the top news stories are at the time, the status of the war in Iraq, and the debates, he forecast. [email protected]

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