Maria Sheffield plans to throw her hat into the ring to run for the post of Georgia’s insurance commissioner.

Sheffield is looking to succeed her former boss, John Oxendine, who is running for governor next year, the National Underwriter has learned.

Because this is a serious commitment, Sheffield has taken her time in making the decision to run, she told NU during the Vermont Captive Insurance Association’s annual conference here. She wanted to be for sure that Commissioner Oxendine would in fact be running for governor in 2010, and she also wanted to size up potential opponents for the primary election next year, she says

“Given the state of the economy and the direct impact it has on the insurance industry, as well as the raging debate at the federal level regarding the regulation of insurance–whether that should be state-based or federal-based–I thought at this point in time it’s crucial that we have an insurance commissioner in office who actually understands the issues and has experience in the office,” says Sheffield, now an attorney with Burr & Forman L.L.C., Atlanta.

Sheffield–who, like Oxendine, is a Republican–worked in the Georgia Department of Insurance for 6 years.