Credit Unions Turning Conventional Political Wisdom on Its Head

This entry was posted by Tuesday, 17 August, 2010
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Lost amid all the hubbub of higher profile Senate and Gubernatorial primary races last week was a come-from-behind victory in a little-noticed Southern Congressional race that illustrates an important trend—and opportunity—in the realm of credit union political action.

In Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, the Republican primary in July to replace retiring U.S. Rep. John Linder (R) was a crowded affair featuring eight candidates.  Conventional wisdom had it that the clear frontrunner was State Representative Clay Cox.

Conventional wisdom was proved wrong.

Georgia credit unions quickly turned to Linder’s Chief of Staff and first-time candidate, Rob Woodall.  As Linder’s aide, Woodall had been instrumental in working with Linder to support credit unions in Congress. Still, no one else gave Woodall a chance of even making the runoff:  indeed, CULAC was one of only two PACs nationwide that stepped out and backed Woodall in the primary.

Well, you can guess what happened: Woodall ran first among all candidates, securing a spot in the August 10th runoff against another upstart, Tea Party-backed candidate.

That’s when credit unions really doubled down for Woodall and went all in.

Gwinnett Federal Credit Union, working with CUNA and the Georgia League, sent two mailers to over 8,000 of its members in the district.  Setting aside partisan politics, the mail pieces pointed out that among the candidates, Woodall was the better choice for credit unions.

Tuesday night, August 10th, Woodall won easily by 8,500 votes, and given the heavily Republican nature of the district, he should win the general election in November.

Similar efforts, in which credit unions are directly encouraging members to vote for pro-credit union candidates, are underway in races in Arizona and North Carolina.  There may be more before the November election.

The clear lesson from Georgia is this: when credit unions advise their members of the pro-credit union, that candidate can win.

Put another way: we can make the difference in these close races, but only if we choose to do so.

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