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Voters to decide 5 insurance commissioner races

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Voters in five states will be electing the states’ top insurance regulators tomorrow.

Wayne Goodwin is running for re-election in North Carolina, and Mike Kreidler is running for re-election in Washington state.

Delaware, Montana and North Dakota all have open races.

Related: Meet the 16 women who run state insurance departments

The open race in Delaware came up Friday when executives with Richmond, Virginia-based Genworth Financial held a conference call with securities analysts to discuss the company’s third-quarter earnings, efforts to separate the unit that writes ordinary life insurance policies and annuities from the unit that writes long-term care insurance, and a pending deal with Beijing-based China Oceanwide Holdings Ltd.

Related: Genworth says higher LTCI rates beat liquidation

The insurance commissioner in Delaware is one of the officials who has to approve the “de-stacking” of the Genworth insurance subsidiaries. During the conference call, a securities analyst asked Thomas McInerney, Genworth’s president, whether a commissioner change could affect the Delaware review process.

McInerney said that the employees on an insurance department’s staff tend to do the analytical work supporting a commissioner’s transaction reviews. In Delaware, “they have generally stayed in place,” McInerney said. “I would expect that to continue going forward.”

Depending on who ends up controlling the White House and Congress, insurance commissioners will also play a role in deciding whether happens next in the individual major medical insurance market, the Affordable Care Act public exchange system, the private long-term care insurance market, and just about every other commercial and personal protection insurance market.


Delaware has an open race because Trinidad Navarro, the New Castle County sheriff, defeated the Democratic incumbent, Karen Weldin Stewart, in a primary Sept. 13.

Navarro had a few years of experience as an insurance agent before he went into law enforcement.

Navarro said before the primary that Weldin Stewart traveled out of state too much and was too soft on insurers, including health insurers.

Related: N.J. Blue drops Delaware Blue deal

Navarro is running against against Jeffrey Cragg.

Cragg, a Republican, got his start as a group life and health agent at Norristown, Pennsylvania-based Provident American Corp. He later worked as a manager for A-G Administrators, a Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based accident and sports accident insurance products distributor.

Since 2000, Cragg has owned retail shipping stores and been active in Delaware Republican Party politics. 

Cragg told Delaware’s Newark Post his priorities include holding insurance prices down by encouraging competition, and using audits and other means to make sure insurers meet policy obligations.

Polling data for the insurance commissioner race was not immediately available, but a survey from the University of Delaware conducted in mid-September shows John Carney, the state’s Democratic candidate for governor, had a 57 percent to 25 percent lead over the Republican candidate, Colin Bonini, among registered voters.


Montana has an open race tomorrow because of term limits.

Monica Lindeen, a Democrat, is the state’s outgoing state auditor, insurance commissioner and securities commissioner. This year, she’s running for secretary of state.

The candidates running to replace Lindeen are Jesse Laslovich, a former state senator who serves as one of Lindeen’s aides, and Matthew Rosendale, a Republican state senator.

The Missoulian, a Montana paper, reported in late October that Rosendale was leading Laslovich by a margin of 43 percent to 33 percent, with 24 percent of the survey participants saying they were undecided.

Rosendale says on his campaign website that he has long been on the record opposing the Affordable Care Act.

“Premiums and deductibles have gone up, while access and (ironically) affordable care has greatly diminished,” Rosendale says. “We must have someone in the state auditor’s office who will stand alongside a Republican president and Republican governor to put the people back in charge of their health care.” He says one of his goals will be to bring back the state’s Insurance Montana Program for small employers.

North Carolina

Wayne Goodwin, the Democratic incumbent, is running against Mike Causey, a Republican.

In 2012, Goodwin defeated Causey. Goodwin won with 52 percent of the vote.

Goodwin wants North Carolina to have its own ACA exchange.

One challenge Goodwin may face is opposition from state residents who dislike the ACA. Goodwin may also face backlash from state residents angry about customer service problems and other problems at Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Elon University, a college based in Elon, North Carolina, has published recent poll results showing that Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is tied, 44 percent to 44 percent, with Pat McCrory, the Republican incumbent.

Goodwin could benefit if voters prefer Democrats in North Carolina tomorrow, or he could suffer if voters prefer new faces to incumbents.

North Dakota

North Dakota has an open race because Adam Hamm, the incumbent, decided not to run.

Democrat Ruth Buffalo, a teacher, is running against Republican Jon Godfread, an official at the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce.

Godfread has emphasized the importance of the insurance commissioner helping consumers with claim problems. Buffalo has talked about improving access to addiction treatment services and other behavioral health services, according to The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

Washington state

Mike Kreidler, a Democrat who has been the Washington state insurance commissioner since 2001, is running against Richard Schrock, a Republican who served for four years as the state’s Commerce Department director.

Kreidler, who has been a supporter of the ACA and the ACA public exchange system, has a big lead over Schrock, according to local press reports based on proprietary polling data from Seattle-based Elway Research.


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