Credit union support can make a difference in elections, particularly in a close race, and Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) both know this from experience.
The lawmakers discussed credit unions’ role in elections during an onstage panel discussion at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. Montana Credit Union Network President/CEO Tracie Kenyon moderated the panel.
Jones came under bank attacks in June 2016 during the primary election. He was dubbed “Credit Union Jones,” and bankers funded his primary opponent with $68,000 in independent expenditures. Jones took 65% of the vote in the primary, while his banker-backed opponent came in third place.
“I believe in credit unions, especially since we’ve seen what’s happened with the big banks,” he said. “I like to refer to them as the ‘people’s bank.’”
Schrader, who was first elected in 2009, has introduced CUNA-backed small business lending legislation.
“To have an organization with such widespread support, with all the good work you do in the community, the way you lend in the community, particularly to small businesses and individuals, you’re highly credible,” he said. “When you came in on my campaign, it made a ton of difference…it means a lot to us to get your support, and it makes a difference to fellow constituents.
Jones concluded by urging credit unions to make their voices heard, to make sure elected officials hear the voice of the people.
“The future of credit unions being able to serve as the ‘people’s bank,’ so to speak, depends on your involvement today. You are in the streets, because your membership is the people who live in the towns and cities and communities,” he said.
“Politically speaking, you’ve got the power—you are where the power is as it relates to power in Washington, D.C. That’s why there are 5,000 of you here right now.”