JULY 29, 2016
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Runoff Credit Union-Backed Candidate for Congress Wins Tough Primary Runoff! (Issue 1 of 4)
With the help of credit union support, challenger Drew Ferguson defeated former State Sen. Mike Crane in their primary runoff race to become the Republican nominee in the 3rd Congressional District contest.

  Supporting Credit Union Individual in Legislature with Phone Bank Night (Issue 2 of 4)
State Rep. Tom Dickson lost his bid to return to the Legislature, falling in the 6th District Republican primary runoff to Chatsworth farmer Jason Ridley, despite credit union support that included a volunteer phone bank night on July 21.

  Cartersville Area Credit Unions Meet with Key Legislator
(Issue 3 of 4)

Leaders of three Cartersville area credit unions met with an area legislator, State Rep. Christian Coomer, a member of the House Banking Committee, to share insights about the industry and build personal connections.

  Credit Unions in the News (Issue 4 of 4)
The credit union message continues to spread, as evidenced by coverage of the industry in a wide range of media outlets, from newspapers to magazines to the broadcast media.

Credit Union-Backed Candidate for Congress Wins Tough Primary Runoff! (Issue 1 of 4)
Credit union advocates meet with Drew Ferguson, left, in April

On July 26th, the credit union-backed candidate for the open Congressional seat in the 3rd District won handily! Drew Ferguson defeated previous state Senator Mike Crane for the Republican primary runoff with more than 3,300 votes between them, an 8 percent margin. But to win by this amount was not an easy task; it was a challenging race leading up to the runoff that even saw previous presidential candidate Ted Cruz stumping for Crane in Georgia the week prior. However, Ferguson had a strong get-out-the-vote mailer effort and consistent messaging to ensure his supporters returned to the polls (along with a lot of sweat equity from his campaign!). Congratulations to Ferguson on behalf of the entire credit union industry.

There were originally nine individuals who ran back in May for the seat to replace U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R), making it one of the most challenging races in the state. And while the field was flooded with individuals hopeful to be selected for Washington, D.C., Ferguson was the candidate credit unions met with back in April to discuss the industry and build a relationship, and build it early – something Ferguson has since noted and appreciates the industry’s support. Our thanks to Delta Community CU and Kinetic CU for taking the time back in April to create this relationship!

Credit unions supported Ferguson in both the primary and the primary runoff with campaign donations through CULAC, funds that were timely in running his successful campaign in those two elections. He understands credit unions and the role they play in improving people’s lives and the value they bring to communities – something important for any candidate to know and appreciate. And, it’s worth noting that he was the only candidate in the race who sought to utilize time prior to the elections to get to know the credit unions in the district. Credit unions were pleased to see late in the campaign that other business groups finally added their names as supporters of Ferguson. Shortly after the race was called for Ferguson, Janet Davis, CEO of Kinetic CU, offered her congratulations to Ferguson on behalf of the credit union and their members in the district. Davis said, "We are pleased that we were able to give our early support and look forward to helping ensure his November victory and working with him in Congress." Ferguson now advances to the general election where he will face Angela Pendley, who ran unopposed for the Democratic ticket in May (the district historically leans heavily Republican).

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Supporting Credit Union Individual in Legislature with Phone Bank Night (Issue 2 of 4)
Credit union volunteers, assisted by State Rep. Brooks Coleman (left center) make pre-runoff calls on behalf of then-State Rep. Tom Dickson (right center)

While the above Congressional race saw over 42,000 voters cast ballots, the other runoffs in the state were decided by a much small number of individuals – anywhere between 700 and 5,000 voters depending on the district and race (with some races being decided by just eight votes). There were three state legislators forced into these runoffs due to the outcome of the May elections, and all three lost to their competitors in the July 26th runoff (even though they had garnered more votes than their opponents back in May). One of these incumbents not returning is State Rep. Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta), forced into the runoff by 16 votes in May, and losing outright on the 26th to Chatsworth farmer Jason Ridley by just over 300 votes. Dickson is one of the four credit union board members in the state Legislature, as he serves on Georgia United CU’s board. However, he did not go down without a fight from the industry; on Thursday, July 21st volunteers made get-out-the-vote calls to help support his campaign. The group of 11 people made a significant number of calls in just over two hours of phone banking: More than 1,000 calls were placed with 518 direct contacts encouraging people to vote for Dickson, with a surprise visitor joining in the calls – Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth), who serves on Peach State FCU’s board.

While the industry will miss having Rep. Dickson in the Legislature, we appreciate the efforts of the credit union volunteers from the phone bank night for the runoff as well as the phone bank night held for him in the primary. In elections nothing is a given, and if you are winning all the time you aren’t taking risks – and taking a risk on a credit union person is never a bad move regardless of the outcome! Thank you to all the volunteers from Associated CU, Georgia’s Own CU, Georgia United CU and GCUA who made calls last week for the runoff, and the volunteers from Georgia United CU, Rome Kraft FCU, and GCUA who staffed the phone bank night held in May before the primary.

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From left: Jay Pye, Family Savings CU; Mark Bartholomew, Georgia United CU; State Rep. Christian Coomer; Scotty Bell, Family Savings CU; Brandee Bickle, GCUA; Andy Harris, Coosa Valley FCU
Cartersville Area Credit Unions Meet with Key Legislator
(Issue 3 of 4)

On Friday, July 22nd industry leaders sat down with state Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) to grow his personal relationship with credit unions in his district. Rep. Coomer serves on a key committee for credit unions, the House Banking Committee (among others), is the chairman of the powerful Transportation Committee, and is regularly tapped by the Governor’s office to carry the state’s more technical bills. He is one to watch for further growth in years ahead, and this meeting was held specifically to create relationships with credit unions early. It’s always better to get to know legislators BEFORE they move up the ladder.

Credit union leaders from Coosa Valley FCU, Family Savings CU, Georgia United CU and GCUA shared their insight on legislative issues, industry issues, and the challenges credit unions of all sizes and shapes face. Thank you to these credit unions for joining in this effort and establishing positive personal relationships. Helping Rep. Coomer have a well-rounded understanding of what makes credit unions unique is beneficial to future advocacy efforts, and this meeting was a great way to help grow his personal connections.

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NewsCredit Unions in the News (Issue 4 of 4)

Credit unions continue to earn media coverage statewide and beyond. Whether it’s in a local newspaper, niche magazine or radio show, the credit union message is shared through a multitude of outlets across Georgia. Click here to see recent coverage of Georgia’s credit unions "In the News."

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