WASHINGTON BUREAU — The fall elections could lead to the arrival of as many as 17 new insurance commissioners.
Four state lawmakers talked about the Nov. 3 general elections Sunday during a round table discussion at the annual meeting of the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, in Baltimore.
In advance of the meeting, ACLI staffers said voters will be electing 37 governors this year, and that 24 seats are open because the incumbents are not eligible to run or are not seeking re-election.
“Regardless of which party fares better this fall, for our industry new governors typically mean new appointed insurance commissioners,” the ACLI staffers say.
Meanwhile, furloughs and early retirements resulting from budget cuts could lead to instability at all levels of the regulatory community, the staffers say.
Juan Vargas, a Democratic state-senator-elect in California, told small insurers attending the meeting that David Jones, the Democratic candidate and apparent leader in the polls, “would be an activist insurance commissioner with a lot of power.”
Mike Villines is the Republican candidate.
Both Jones and Villines are veteran members of the California Legislature who have come up against term limits.
Rep. Clay Ford, R-Fla., said at the meeting that it is likely that if Republican Rick Scott is elected governor he would replace Kevin McCarty, the current insurance commissioner. Ford, a Scott supporter, opposes McCarty and accused McCarty of “erecting a firewall” between the Florida executive branch and the state legislature.
McCarty has been active in efforts at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., to protect the role of insurance agents in the age of the Affordable Care Act.