October 29, 2020

Election Night for Insurance Geeks: 2020 Edition

We are less than a week from a presidential election, with control of Congress in play. Meanwhile, shifts in state legislatures have the potential to change the direction of policymaking and impact the redistricting process. And, 11 gubernatorial elections are on 2020 ballots. Plenty to watch.

That said, for insurance regulatory stakeholders, the top of the ticket in some respects is those insurance commissioners independently elected statewide. Here’s a rundown on that field.

Which Commissioners Are Elected: A Recap

Commissioners in California, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Washington and the Virgin Islands are elected by the public every four years. The remaining commissioners are appointed by their governors (often subject to Senate consent), with the exception of a few states using a commission or other unique process.

Who’s Up in 2020?

Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, (D), is running for reelection against Julia Pillsbury, (R). At the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Navarro chairs the Antifraud (D) Task Force and serves as the vice chair for the Accounting Practices and Procedures (E) Task Force. His campaign emphasizes his first-term record. Julia Pillsbury, a longtime pediatrician, has centered her campaign on improving access to and affordability of health insurance.

North Carolina
North Carolina is on political watchlists this year up and down the ticket, and the commissioner’s race is no exception. Commissioner Mike Causey, (R), is running for reelection against Wayne Goodwin, (D), whom Causey narrowly defeated in 2016 after losing to him in 2012. Causey is looking to secure a second term, while Goodwin’s bid for a Grover Cleveland would make for term three.

North Dakota
Commissioner Jon Godfread, (R), is running unopposed after his opponent was declared ineligible to run. Godfread currently chairs the NAIC’s Innovation and Technology (EX) Task Force and Artificial Intelligence (EX) Working Group. Those two workstreams are picking up steam on critical issues so consistency in leadership will be welcome.

Current Commissioner Matt Rosendale is running for the state’s at-large congressional seat, leaving open the race for his replacement. New candidates Troy Downing, (R), and State Rep. Shane Morigeau, (D), are competing in the general election. Downing currently works in real estate but has a background in insurance and securities, and Morigeau has been a state representative since 2017.

Five-term Commissioner Mike Kreidler, (D), is running for reelection against Chirayu Patel, (R). Kreidler currently chairs the NAIC’s Climate Risk and Resilience (C) Working Group and sits on several other influential committees, with a focus on health care, the environment and long-term care insurance in particular. Patel is a licensed insurance agent who has expressed a commitment to good government and to bringing changes to the health and property casualty insurance sectors.

Further Down the Road

Several elected commissioners are back up for reelection in 2022. Two years from now, we will see California, Georgia, Oklahoma and Kansas insurance commissioners on the ballot. Commissioners Ricardo Lara (California), John King (Georgia), Glen Mulready (Oklahoma) and Vicki Schmidt (Kansas) are all eligible to run in the next cycle.

Big Picture Impact

Five separate races will directly select the commissioner on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Eleven gubernatorial elections will take place, among which six governors have authority to appoint commissioners. The elections have the potential to influence the direction of insurance regulation, both from within the NAIC and through individual state activity. That makes for a more targeted election scorecard than the national picture, but a scorecard that has important implications.

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