Calif. Commissioner: Bustamante and Poizner in the Final Stretch

November 7, 2006

Going into today’s election, Democratic candidates in California have the lead in the races for attorney general, state treasurer, controller and secretary of state, according to a Field Poll released Friday.
But Republican insurance commissioner candidate Steve Poizner, a Silicon Valley millionaire, held a nine-point edge, 46 percent to 37 percent, over Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.

And the current insurance commissioner, Democrat John Garamendi, was running even with his Republican opponent, state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousands Oaks.

Garamendi led 44 percent to 43 percent, but the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Bustamante is touting himself as the candidate with experience, noting he would try to lower workers’ comp rates another 10 to 15 percent, and that he would support a national disaster plan. He also favors state, not federal, regulation of insurance activities. “I’m a state’s rights kind of guy. I think it’s important that the consumer protections that have been put into the contractual activities between companies and individuals or companies and employers is an important part of making sure that the type of product we have is effective and fair. So I prefer a California version than from perhaps a smaller state,” he told Insurance Journal in an exclusive interview last month.

Poizner, on the other hand, emphasizes his experience in business and understanding of corporations. In an interview with Insurance Journal, he said his role as commissioner would help to lower the cost of doing business in California. Among his priorities is to attack insurance fraud, which he said hurts everyone, and also to continue reforming workers’ compensation to make California a more attractive place to do business. He said he “will lean heavily on agents and brokers for ongoing information flow,” knowing agents are closets to the customers and can help to keep him informed.

In other races, the poll showed:

The race for lieutenant governor was even.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown led state Sen. Chuck Poochigan, R-Fresno, by 25 points _ 56 percent to 31 percent in the race for attorney general, according to the survey of 795 likely voters that was conducted by telephone between Oct. 23-30.

The current attorney general, Democrat Bill Lockyer, had a 19-point lead over Republican Claude Parrish for state treasurer, 45 percent to 26 percent, the poll found.

Democrat John Chiang led his Republican opponent, former Assemblyman Tony Strickland, by seven points, 38 percent to 31 percent, in the campaign for state controller.

And Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach, had a six-point lead over the Republican secretary of state, Bruce McPherson, 40 percent to 34 percent.

School Superintendent Jack O’Connell won re-election outright in June.

To read the complete interviews, see Insurance Journal’s October 23, West print edition. The Associated Press also contributed to this article.

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