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Special Edition of Capitol Eyes: 2020 Election Recap 11.4.2020

Cap Eyes 4.30.20
Nov 04, 2020
By Tom Harrington
  • Advocacy

Special Edition of Capitol Eyes: 2020 Election Recap

With the results of Tuesday's elections, there will be split government for the 2021-2022 legislative session. Republicans maintained majorities in the State Assembly and Senate, and Democratic Governor Tony Evers was not up for reelection.

In Washington D.C., the U.S. Senate is likely to remain under Republican control, with five races yet to be called. Democrats are expected to maintain control in the House of Representatives.

As Activists, it's time to move beyond political and engagement fatigue, prepare to strengthen important relationships, and showcase the value of promoting and protecting credit unions.

Upcoming Virtual Advocacy Events

State Government Affairs Conference
January 26 - 28, 2021
Save the date- additional information to follow!

CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference
March 2 - 4, 2021
Register here >>

Special thanks to credit unions' contract lobby firm, The Kammer Group, for their contributions to the summary below.

State Elections

Senate Republicans increased their number by two seats to hold a 21-12 majority.  In the open Green Bay seat, attorney Eric Wimberger beat DePere Alderman Jonathon Hansen. In northwestern Wisconsin, GOP Rep. Rob Stafsholt defeated Sen. Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset.  One of the closest races in Wisconsin was for the seat left open when Democratic Senate Minority Leader Shilling retired. Dems managed to retain the seat with DATCP Secretary Brad Pfaff holding off former GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke.

Of note for credit unions, Senators-elect Stafsholt (R-New Richmond), Mary Czaja-Felzkowski (R-Irma), and Kelda Roys (D-Madison) have been strong supporters of credit unions during their time in office. Their election to the Senate is a positive development for credit unions and our advocacy efforts.

There are eight new State Senators.

Bios of the new State Senators >>

Assembly Democrats gained two seats to shave the Republican majority to 61-38.  Trump’s weakness with suburban Republicans made things worse for GOP candidates down ticket in areas around Milwaukee.  In the 13th AD, Dem Sara Rodriguez defeated Rep. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield, according to unofficial returns. In the 23rd AD, Dem Deb Andraca beat Mequon Republican Rep. Jim Ott.

There are 16 new State Representatives.

Bios of the new State Representatives >>

State-Level Political Advocacy

Activists contributed a record breaking $194,764 to state-level candidates through WCULAF and their individual CU Members' Conduit Accounts this election cycle!

Thank you for pitching in to ensure credit union friendly candidates were supported in their reelections!

WCULAF by the Numbers

  • 71 candidates received support.
  • 5 campaign committees and/or state committees received support.
  • $122,210 was sent to campaigns.

Members' Conduit Authorizations by the Numbers

  • 112 candidates received funds from CU Members' Conduit Account holders.
  • 5 campaign committees received support.
  • $72,554 was authorized toward committees by account holders.

Success in Supporting Candidates Elected to Office

  • 100% of WCULAF support for Senate candidates went to candidates who won their election.
  • 99% of WCULAF support for Assembly candidates went to candidates that won their election.
  • 96% of dollars authorized by Conduit Account holders to Senate candidates went to candidates that won their election.
  • 97% of dollars authorized by Conduit Account holders to Assembly candidates went to those who won their election.

Federal Elections

Presidential Election

Wisconsin went down to the wire this morning, with Democrat Joe Biden holding a lead of over 20,000 votes with almost all the unofficial returns in. Once again, Wisconsin was decided by less than a percentage point in a presidential contest. 

The urban-rural split widened with Democrats turning out enough new votes in Milwaukee, compared to four years ago, to overcome the increase in rural turnout generated by Trump. Trump also continued to lose some ground in the Republican outer suburbs of Milwaukee. 

Trump made five trips to Wisconsin in the final month of the race.  Just like four years ago the race ended up being far tighter than the pre-election polling suggested here in Wisconsin and in other swing states. 

U.S. House of Representatives

Democrats will continue to maintain their control over the House of Representatives with many close races too close to call.

Incumbents in Wisconsin were successful in each of their Congressional races. In the 5th Congressional District, Republican Scott Fitzgerald (Juneau), defeated Democrat Tom Palzewicz (Brookfield) to succeed longtime Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.

Having served as Senate Majority Leader in the Wisconsin State Senate, Congressman-elect Fitzgerald has been supportive of credit unions throughout his time in the State Legislature.

Congressman Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua), also retained his seat representing the 7th Congressional District after defeating Democrat Tricia Zunker (Wausau). Having originally won the seat during the May special election, Congressman Tiffany will now be serving his first full term as an elected member of Congress. Tiffany was also the first CULAC supported candidate to win during this election cycle.

U.S. Senate

Republicans are likely to maintain their control over the U.S. Senate, with five close races not yet called.

Wisconsin Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) and Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) were not up for reelection in 2020.

Federal-Level Political Advocacy

The Credit Union Legislative Action Committee (CULAC) contributed a record $7+ Million during the 2019-2020 election cycle!

CULAC by the Numbers

  • 352 CULAC-supported candidates have won election to the 117th Congress.
  • All 8 Wisconsin congressional winners received support.
  • Support went to candidates from both parties- 48% to Democrats, 52% to Republicans.
  • $3.2 million- spent on political advertising for credit union friendly candidates.
  • $3.7 million- given in contributions to candidates' campaigns.
  • Yet, just $41,000 was contributed by Wisconsin Credit Union Activist to CULAC in 2020. Help us ensure CULAC is strong for future elections by setting up Payroll Deduction. To contribute to CULAC, your credit union must have a signed CULAC permission agreement. Please reach out to Tom Harrington with any questions.

Funds from CULAC and the National Advocacy were used to:

  • contribute directly to candidate campaigns.
  • run television and radio ads
  • for social media ads to support important candidates, and
  • on mailings to credit union members in key districts

These efforts were successful across the country. Visit to see a map of CULAC's engagement and successes.

About The Author

Tom Harrington is the Political & Grassroots Specialist for The Wisconsin Credit Union League.