Scott Sinder and John Fielding
The mid-term election focus was on the Democratic takeover
of Congress, but another big story was taking place in state
capitals throughout the nation, where the election results will
likely result in new insurance commissioners in a dozen or more
Voters in 36 states elected governors in November, and
voters in four states elected insurance commissioners. Just how
much this change in elected personnel will result in changes in
insurance regulation and policy remains unknown at this
The most notable changes are in California, which elected a
new insurance commissioner, and in New York, where Gov. Eliot
Spitzer will appoint a new superintendent.
We are looking at a minimum of nine new commissioners,
perhaps more. Four current commissioners have also been in
office for only a few months. Kentucky’s Julie McPeak, a
former insurance department general counsel, was appointed
department executive director. Louisiana’s Jim Donelon
won a special election in September to fulfill the unexpired
term of former Commissioner Robert Wooley, who joined a Baton
Rouge lobby firm. Steve Goldman was appointed New Jersey
commissioner last spring. Morris Chavez was recently appointed
superintendent in New Mexico.
This adds up to significant turnover in the regulatory
ranks. We don’t know what impact these new regulators
will have in their states or at the National Association of
Insurance Commissioners, but it appears some are getting the
message that change is needed. At a recent meeting in Kansas
City, Iowa Commissioner Voss and North Dakota Commissioner Jim
Poolman urged regulatory staffs around the nation to do more to
modernize and streamline producer license requirements and
processes. They say they will push fellow commissioners on
licensing and other regulatory reforms.
This is a good sign. We hope the new commissioners will
share this realistic, reformist approach and help the NAIC live
down its historical acronym for “No Action Is
Sinder is CIAB general counsel. email@example.com
Fielding is of counsel at The Scott Group.
Here is a state-by-state breakdown (with information
up-to-date as of early December): Alabama: Republican Gov. Bob Riley
re-elected. Commissioner Walter Bell expected to stay.
Alaska: Republican Sarah Palin
elected governor, replacing Frank Murkowski (who lost his
party’s primary). Palin expected to keep Director Linda
Arizona: Democratic Gov. Janet
Napolitano re-elected. Director Christina Urias expected to
Arkansas: Democrat Mike Beebe
elected governor, replacing retiring Republican Mike Huckabee.
Beebe likely to replace Commissioner Julie Benafield
California: Republican Steve
Poizner defeats Democrat Cruz Bustamante for insurance
commissioner. Poizner succeeds John Garamendi, who was elected
Colorado: Democrat Bill Ritter
defeats Republican Bob Beauprez. With switch in party control,
Ritter likely to replace Commissioner David Rivera.
Connecticut: Gov. M. Jodi Rell
re-elected. Commissioner Sue Cogswell expected to stay.
District of Columbia: Democrat
Adrian Fenty elected to succeed Mayor Anthony Williams. Fenty
asks all appointed officials to submit resignations.
Commissioner Tom Hampton awaits word of his future.
Florida: Democrat Alex Sink
elected CFO, replacing Republican Tom Gallagher. No word on
Gallagher appointee Commissioner Kevin McCarty.
Georgia: John Oxendine
re-elected commissioner after dropping out of lieutenant
Hawaii: Republican Gov. Linda
Lingle re-elected. Insurance Commissioner Jeff Schmidt expected
Idaho: Republican Butch Otter
elected governor and will appoint a new director. Shad Priest
has served as acting director.
Illinois: Democrat Gov. Rod
Blagojevich re-elected. Insurance Director Mike McRaith
expected to stay.
Iowa: Democrat Chet Culver
succeeds Democrat Tom Vilsack. Commissioner Susan Voss expected
Kansas: Republican Sandy Praeger
re-elected insurance commissioner.
Maine: Gov. John Baldacci
re-elected, but Insurance Superintendent Al Iuppa (NAIC
president in 2006) is leaving for the private sector.
Maryland: Democrat Martin
O’Malley defeats Gov. Robert Ehrlich. Likely to replace
Commissioner Steve Orr.
Massachusetts: Democrat Deval
Patrick defeats Kerry Healey in bid to succeed Republican Gov.
Mitt Romney. Patrick likely to replace Commissioner Julie
Michigan: Gov. Jennifer Granholm
re-elected. Commissioner Linda Watters expected to stay.
Minnesota: Gov. Tim Pawlenty
re-elected. Commissioner Glenn Wilson expected to stay.
Nebraska: Gov. David Heineman
re-elected. Director Tim Wagner expected to stay.