(Excerpt from the paBanker magazine, Q4 2016)
By Duncan Campbell, President & CEO, PA Bankers Association
I think you will agree that this past election cycle was pretty unbelievable. Whether you were a Trump supporter, a Clinton supporter, or a neither supporter, we have to remember that as Americans we were given the very special right to vote. I remind myself every day that not everyone in this world has that right, and I realize how fortunate we are to live in America.
Pennsylvania was the epicenter of this year’s election hoopla, as President-Elect Trump won the Commonwealth by one point. It has been 28 years since a Republican presidential candidate won Pennsylvania with the victory of George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988. President-Elect Trump has expressed concerns about the regulatory burden facing the banking industry. Having a President, a Senate and a House all in agreement with this very simple, yet powerful, premise is encouraging. And, while I don’t expect we will see a repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act in its entirety, we are cautiously optimistic that the banking industry may realize some common sense regulatory reform. What that looks like? Well, it’s just too early to say.
I am hesitant to predict anything, but I do know that Election Night could have ended with a very different outcome and a less optimistic picture for our industry. I am specifically referring to the U.S. Senate where it was a conventional belief that “as Pennsylvania goes, so goes the Senate.” This belief was in reference to Pat Toomey’s race for re-election. I think there is a new saying that could have been created during this race, and that is, “as Pennsylvania goes, so goes the banking industry.” I say that because the Toomey-McGinty race was a referendum on banking—Katie McGinty put our industry on trial. And it wasn’t until about 1 a.m., Wednesday Nov. 9th, that we knew the verdict.
Early in the election cycle, the PaBPAC Board of Directors decided that we needed to do everything in our power to support Pat Toomey. Senator Toomey had been a banker. As the only member of the U.S. Senate to have this distinction, he has the ability to speak to the value that the banking industry provides to its local communities. He, and only he, has the credibility to stand up on the Senate floor and counter any misconceptions, distortions and exaggerations aimed our way. And, in this election campaign, he was attacked consistently for his experience as a banker. Conversely, the banking industry was attacked consistently throughout the campaign for being, well, the banking industry.
In response to these attacks, and because of Pat’s unique background, we worked to implement the PaBPAC Board’s direction—to do everything possible to send Pat Toomey back to Washington. PaPBAC Federal is affiliated with ABA’s BankPAC and we worked together to max-out to both Senator Toomey’s reelection and leadership PACs. We requested that the ABA’s c4 organization, The Fund for Economic Growth, support Senator Toomey, and it did so at a record level. We recommended that Friends of Traditional Banking select Senator Toomey’s race as one of its races of national attention, and they did, encouraging bankers across the country to contribute to the campaign. And, we did what we could do to spread the word to friends and family here in Pennsylvania that Pat Toomey understands the value that the banking industry brings to Pennsylvania’s local communities: the jobs we create; the loans we provide; the charitable organizations we support; the dreams we make come true. This is the real banking industry.
Supporting Pat Toomey was the right thing to do for our industry in Pennsylvania, and it was the right thing to do for our industry across the nation. Had he lost this election, we would have lost a champion who understands and recognizes who we are and what we do. But equally important, we would likely see continued attacks on the banking industry for elections to come. And, while the banking industry may continue to be under attack, we are thankful we won this battle.
One thing is for certain: Pat Toomey is the only member of the U.S. Senate to have helped organize, launch and operate a community bank, and Pennsylvania has re-elected him at one of the most critical times in our industry’s lifetime. Like I said, I am hesitant to make predictions, but I am significantly more confident that we might see some semblance of regulatory reform, knowing that Pat Toomey is representing us in Washington. And that helps our communities and makes our entire country stronger.
President & CEO