WASHINGTON (8/19/14)--Today's Republican primary in Alaska will see three candidates vie for a spot in November's general election; Mead Treadwell, current lieutenant governor; Dan Sullivan, former state attorney general; and Joe Miller, a lawyer and former U.S. Magistrate judge.
The race is being watched closely by credit unions because the winner will run against incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D). Begich was first elected in 2008 and is a longtime credit union supporter.
In July 2013 he wrote to the Senate Finance Committee supporting credit unions' tax status, saying it "should be retained in any tax reform effort, to ensure continued access to affordable credit for consumers, homebuyers and small businesses alike, all of which contribute substantially to economic growth."
Speaking at this year's Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference, Begich pledged his support for a bill that would raise the member business lending (MBL) cap from its current 12.25% of assets. He is also one of 32 senators to write to the National Credit Union Administration with concerns about its risk-based capital proposal.
Trey Hawkins, vice president of political affairs for CUNA, called Begich "one of the strongest credit union supporters in the Senate."
The Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC), CUNA's federal PAC, has participated in more than 400 U.S. House and Senate races this year. CULAC has raised more than $3.5 million this election cycle, and its contributions are split almost evenly between the two major parties, with 50.01% going to Democrats, 49.85% going to Republicans and 0.14% going to independent candidates.
Along with the Begich race, a number of November races feature credit union-supported candidates in close races, including incumbents Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Udall has advocated for credit unions in many areas, including preserving their tax status, increasing the MBL cap, and weighing in with concerns regarding the federal risk-based capital proposal. McConnell was backed in his May primary by the Kentucky Credit Union League and will be throughout the campaign.
Another closely watched race will be in California's 31st District. The race features Democratic candidate Pete Aguilar, a former vice president of Arrowhead CU, based in San Bernardino, Calif. with $820 million in assets.
CULAC contributed a $197,189.03 independent expenditure for direct mail and digital advertising for Aguilar, both in English and Spanish, in addition to a $10,000 contribution to Aguilar's campaign.