Experience and support for the new federal health care reform law are the defining issues in a Republican primary for Kansas insurance commissioner that will determine who holds the office for the next four years.
Republicans also must pick nominees in the Aug. 3 election for governor and attorney general, but each of those races has a candidate who’s expected to win easily.
In the insurance race, most Republicans expect incumbent Sandy Praeger, of Lawrence, to defeat insurance agent Dave Powell, of El Dorado. No other party has a candidate, meaning the outcome of the GOP race will determine whether Praeger keeps the office.
Powell has the endorsement of several tea party organizations across Kansas and said he would do his best “to mitigate the impact” of the health care act until enough Republicans are in Congress to either defund or repeal the law.
“It’s not good for Kansas; it’s not good for our citizens,” Powell said.
Praeger, who was elected in 2002 after serving in the Kansas Senate, said the law has provisions that are good for the state. She’s already working to implement some portions as the law begins to take effect.
“There are some good provisions, certainly,” she said. “I think some of the issues in 2014 and the market reforms in 2014 are going to be problematic and going to have to work to mitigate.”
Powell says his 33 years of writing policies and serving consumers make him better suited for office.
“I’ve got the knowledge and I’ve spent the time in the field helping people and listening to their needs. That’s what’s needed with the train wreck that’s coming out of Washington right now,” he said.
Praeger isn’t a former insurance agent, but she said she has the experience working at the state and national level to help guide Kansas through the new reforms.
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