Appointed, Elected Commissioner Jobs on the Line

November 6, 2006

The jobs of more than half of state insurance commissioners around the country could be on the line on this 2006 midterm Election Day.

The futures of as many as 30 of the nation’s insurance commissioners are tied to the outcomes of the Nov. 7 voting, either because they are directly elected or because their appointment is controlled or influenced by the governor of their state.

Of course, not all of these commissioners will be replaced. Many of the incumbent governors will be re-elected and retain their insurance chiefs.

The most likely changes in insurance departments will be in states where the governor’s office changes political parties. Republicans currently control 28 governorships to the Democrats’ 22. But Democrats appear to be in good position to increase that number, with polls having them favored to wrest at least five from Republicans, including Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Arkansas, and Ohio. Democrats are also given a fair shot at unseating Republicans in Maryland and Minnesota.

At the same time, Republicans could move Wisconsin, Oregon and Michigan into their column.

Four of the 11 states that elect their insurance commissioners are doing so this Nov. 7. There are elections for insurance commissioners in California, Georgia, Kansas and Oklahoma. Incumbent Louisiana Commissioner Jim Donelon, a Republican, got a jump on his associates by winning a special election on Sept. 30.

There are 36 gubernatorial races this year. Of these, there are 26 where the state insurance regulator’s job is in some measure controlled by the governor. These states and their current commissioners are: Alaska (Linda Hall), Alabama (Walter Bell), Arkansas (Julie Benafield Bowman), Colorado (David Rivera), Connecticut (Susan Cogswell), Florida (Kevin McCarty), Iowa (Susan Voss), Idaho (Shad Priest), Illinois (Michael McRaith), Massachusetts (Julianne Bowler), Maryland (R. Steven Orr), Maine (Alessandro Iuppa), Michigan (Linda Watters), Minnesota (Glenn Wilson), Nebraska (Tim Wagner), New York (Howard Mills), Ohio (Ann Womer Benjamin), Pennsylvania (Diane Koken), Rhode Island (Joseph Torti), South Carolina, (Eleanor Kitzman) South Dakota (Merle Scheiber), Tennessee (Paul Flowers), Texas (Mike Geeslin), Vermont, (John Crowley), Wisconsin (Jorge Gomez) and Wyoming (Ken Vines).

In Florida, the commissioner is appointed by a panel of four state officers, three of whom including the governor are facing voters this week.

Not all of the state commissioners’ terms of office coincide exactly with the dates governors assume and leave office. For example, the term of Texas Commissioner Geeslin expires in February 2007 and Maryland’s Orr’s appointment runs until June 2007. The current terms in Arizona (2012) and New Hampshire (2008) also extend beyond the governor’s term.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.