Whether you color yourself red or blue, one thing is certain—the 2008 elections are pivotal for the insurance industry. From the state races for insurance commissioner to this year’s historic presidential contest, catastrophes, health insurance and regulation are all in the national spotlight. Insurance Commissioner elections are being held in five states—Delaware, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Washington—and the candidates and issues involved in each race are being featured on the Insurance Law Center. The competition is fierce in North Dakota between Republican Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm and state Rep. Jasper Schneider, a Democrat. Hamm is the incumbent who was appointed in October 2007 to replace former Commissioner Jim Poolman, so both candidates are seeking election for the first time. Hamm and Schneider went at it in a podcast that’s being featured now on the Insurance Law Center. Click here to access our interview with the North Dakota opponents.
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is seeking re-election and running against Republican challenger John Adams, the same opponent he faced in 2004. Adams runs an insurance firm and hasn’t raised much cash or campaigned very heavily. The centerpiece of Kreidler’s campaign is a proposal to create a form of universal health care statewide, using a payroll tax on employees and employers so every person at least has coverage for major medical emergencies as well as annual checkups. Commissioner Kreidler’s podcast is also being featured now on the Insurance Law Center. Click here to access our interview with the Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.
Karen Weldin-Stewart, a Democrat who ran against Insurance Commissioner Matthew Denn in the 2004 primary and won 42% of the vote, is engaged in a hot contest for the insurance commissioner spot in Delaware against Republican attorney John Brady and Tom Savage (running as an Independent after finishing third in the Democratic primary). Known for her pro-consumer stance, Weldin-Stewart’s position on the issues is set forth in a blog that she posted last week. Readers can access Weldin-Stewart’s blog by clicking here.
Candidates are also competing in North Carolina, where Insurance Commissioner Jim Long has opted to step down after six terms and 24 years in office. In the running to succeed Long are Democrat and former Raleigh City Councilman John Odom and current Assistant Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. We will feature an interview with the winner of this race after the election.
Another open race is taking place in Montana, where State Auditor John Morrison has decided to step down. Competing for the top spot is Democrat Monica Lindeen, a former member of the state house and Republican state Sen. Duane Grimes. We will also feature an interview with the winner of this contest after Montana voters make their choice.
We’re also watching gubernatorial races in six of the states that appoint insurance commissioners. Missouri, Vermont, Indiana, New Hampshire, West Virgtinia and Utah could have fresh blood appointed to lead their respective insurance departments. Finally, we'll be keeping a close eye on the major impact that the outcome of the Presidential race is bound to have on the insurance industry. The differences between the candidates on most of the major insurance-related issues are extreme. Sen. Barack Obama is a co-sponsor of the Senate version of the Homeowners Defense Act, while Sen. John McCain is opposed to the creation of a national catastrophe fund. McCain stands behind an optional federal charter for life and property/casualty insurers, but Obama (while proposing stricter federal regulation of financial services) has not taken a position on whether federal controls should be imposed upon an industry that the states have regulated for over 130 years. The candidates are also on opposite sides when it comes to health insurance, with Obama supporting an expanded federal role in healthcare and McCain advocating replacing the employer-sponsored tax exclusion with tax credits for individuals and families. The Insurance Law Center is a non-partisan website that welcomes the entire industry to its online community. We don’t care one whit about who you vote for. But we care a great deal about the outcome of your vote, and we’re downright obsessed about tracing the impact that tomorrow’s elections will have on the issues and trends that shape our industry. So continue to visit the Insurance Law Center throughout November for the latest campaign coverage. It’s the one sure place to find the cure for your election fever.