1st Half Money Race: Insurance Commissioner

UPDATE: I can’t forget about the other Democratic candidate: SF Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier thinks she’s running for the race as well.  She entered the race too late to file for the July filings.

Here’s today’s entry into my continuing money race series: insurance commissioner. The insurance commissioner is kind of a strange gig. There are a number of other insurance regulators in the governor’s administration that also do a lot of regulation that the title is kind of overbroad.  For example, the department of managed care regulates HMOs and most health insurance, so strike that one off the list. Although I’m not really sure it should be an elected position, the insurance commissioner does play an important role in publicly defining the relationship between the state and insurers.

This should be an interesting race. In theory, it’s one of those races where typically people vote based upon party because they haven’t really heard of the candidates.  The exception would be 2006 when voters had heard enough about the Democratic candidate, Cruz Bustamante, to know they thought his campaign slogan was very apt: Lose with Cruz. Seriously, the campaign was something about weight loss or something.

Anyway, this time you have three Assembly members running for the race, with the Republican, Mike Villines, probably having the highest profile due to his Assembly Minority Leader position until he was deposed after the February budget deal. On the Democratic side you have Dave Jones, a long-time progressive who is pretty popular with the grassroots wherever he goes, and Hector De La Torre, a pretty good guy himself.

Account/Candidate Dave Jones Hector De La Torre Mike Villines
1st Half Contribs $293,190.97 $528,459.96 $612,399.00
Ending Cash IC Account $257,788.86 $512,328.15 $185,944.93
Assembly Account $845,398.04 n/a $44,717.28
Total Cash $1,103,186.90 $512,328.15 $230,662.21

All of the candidates are pretty good fundraisers, but Villines has one key advantage: he’s taking money from every insurance company he can.  He’s received money from Aetna ($1500), Farmers ($3900) and the Association of California Insurance Companies PAC ($2000), among others. Asm. Jones has said that he will not accept any insurance money, and I found no evidence that he has done so.  Asm. De La Torre has taken a few contributions from insurance companies as well, but it seems to be less pervasive than Villines. That being said, if you are looking for the guy who is keeping as far away from taking money from the people you are supposed to be regulating, there is a clear winner: Dave Jones. UPDATE: It turns out those transactions were old, dating all the way back to 2006 and 2007. Asm. De La Torre has also pledged to take no insurance company money for this campaign.  It is reassuring that both Democrats see this as an important issue this time around.

As for the money totals, Dave Jones takes a huge cash on hand advantage into the race from his assembly account. Contributions for the first half of the year, despite looking lopsided in favor of Villines and De La Torre, were actually quite equal, as both of those candidates included transfers from their old accounts into their new insurance commissioner accounts. Keeping track of Villines money was particularly confusing because he also has an account for state senate in 2014 where he raised for the first part of the year, and the transferred to the IC account.  Nonetheless, each raised slightly under $300K for the first half of the year. Villines spent a ton of money, over $400K. It seems to have gone to slate mailers, so perhaps this was related to the May 19 election. Otherwise, I’m not sure when these mailers are going to go out.

This should be an interesting race. The Democratic primary could be an interesting discussion between two qualified candidates, while the general election could end up being a little more competitive than we’d like.

2 thoughts on “1st Half Money Race: Insurance Commissioner”

  1. … San Francisco Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier.  Although a sizable chunk of the City’s elected officials jointly endorsed Dave Jones — which says something about how unliked she is.  “Nobody in their right mind,” said Aaron Peskin “is going to take [Michela] entering the Lieutenant Governor’s race, the Insurance Commissioner’s race, or any other race outside Pacific Heights seriously.”

    More on that here: http://www.beyondchron.org/new

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