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Commissioners Might Change In Ind., Mo., N.H.

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Voters last night returned top insurance regulators to office in North Carolina, North Dakota, Montana and Washington.[@@]

Those results mean the only political changes in membership in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., could come in Missouri and Indiana, where control of the governor’s office, which appoints the commissioner, shifted from Democrats to Republicans, and in New Hampshire, where voters replaced a Republican with a Democrat.

In North Carolina, Democrat Jim Long, a former NAIC president, handily won his sixth term with 55% of the vote. He won his post along with Democratic incumbent Gov. Mike Easley, defeating former state legislator C. Robert Brawley.

Republican Jim Poolman easily won re-election in North Dakota, defeating auto glass repair shop owner Terry Barnes. Poolman suddenly quit his post as NAIC vice president this fall and took himself out of contention for the organization’s presidency — a post that abruptly became vacant with the resignation of Ernst Csiszar.

Poolman took nearly two-thirds of the vote. During his campaign he said that availability was a key issue for the state that attracts few carriers.

In Montana, Democrat John Morrison won re-election as state auditor commissioner of insurance securities with an estimated 57% of the vote as his fellow Democrat Brian Schweitzer took the governor’s chair. Morrison, who is one of the few former trial lawyers to serve as commissioner, ran on a platform of tax credits for small businesses to provide health insurance and some reform of credit-scoring regulations. He defeated Republican State Sen. Duane Grimes.

In Washington, Democrat Mike Kreidler won a second term with 53% of the vote, defeating Republican John Adams, who owned an insurance brokerage. Kreidler has gained a reputation as a critic of credit scoring.

In Missouri and Indiana, the ouster of Democrats from the governor’s chair is expected to lead to the appointment of new regulators.

In Delaware, Democrat Matthew Denn defeated Republican David Ennis with about 53% of the vote. Denn helped write a patients bill of rights while serving as legal counsel to Gov. Ruth Ann Minner from 2001 through 2003. The incumbent commissioner, Democrat Donna Lee Williams, is retiring after serving 12 years in the post.


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