The state of California is seeking qualified applicants for its newest elected constitutional office. Since 1991, the commissioner has served as the elected regulator of the insurance markets for health care, automobiles, property, and loss of life. This position is sure to advance the career of the ambitious public policy professional by ensuring he or she is one of the first people that many voters will think of when something terrible happens.
Job duties include:
- Certify insurance agents and brokers in the state
- Investigate consumer complaints
- Approve premium rate increases when financially necessary, even though voters tend to really, really not like that
- Make sure insurance companies have enough money set aside in the event of catastrophe
- Spend a lot of time worrying about what the full repeal of Obamacare, the next wildfire season, and the San Andreas fault will do to the California insurance market
No background in insurance law required! (Actually, if any applicants have that, it would be a first for the office.)
Steve Poizner is trying to get his old job back while state Sen. Ricardo Lara and Asif Mahmood are vying to keep the seat in Democratic hands.
Poizner, who is running as an independent, was the state insurance commissioner from 2006 to 2010, and he is touting his experience as critical to help underinsured homeowners and fight health insurance premium increases.
For his part, Lara is asking voters to look at his record in the state Legislature on health issues, including his advocacy of health care for immigrant children and a single-payer health care system. Mahmood, a physician, is telling voters that he knows how to deal with insurance companies after years in the medical field.
Meet the Applicants
A former legislative aide and now a Democratic senator who represents South Los Angeles County, Lara has served as a member of both houses of the Legislature.
The son of Mexican immigrants, he made history in 2012 when he became the first openly gay person of color elected to the California Senate. In the Senate, he has championed a single-payer health care system, health care for immigrant children, multi-lingual education in California’s schools and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Lara lives in Bell Gardens and is a graduate of San Diego State University.
He has the endorsements of some of California’s most influential labor unions, as well as dozens of federal, state and local Democrats elected to office.
Recommended by: California Labor Federation, California Teachers Association, the State Council of Building and Construction Trades Council of California, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.
Asif Mahmood is a pulmonologist and doctor of internal medicine in the Los Angeles area. The Democrat initially filed to run for lieutenant governor but switched earlier this year to the insurance commissioner’s race.
He was raised in a rural village in Pakistan and became the first student from his village to score high enough on exams to attend medical school. He completed his medical residency at the University of Kentucky.
If elected, Mahmood would be the first Muslim elected to statewide office and the first doctor elected as insurance commissioner. He and his wife live in the Los Angeles area with their three children.
Recommended by: California Controller Betty Yee, U.S. Reps. Judy Chu and Brad Sherman, Black Women of Political Action.
Having once held the insurance commissioner’s job as a Republican, Steve Poizner is back for a second term, this time in a no-party bid.
Poizner left politics eight years ago after losing a bitter Republican primary bid against Meg Whitman in the 2010 governor’s race. He’s returning to the campaign trail as an independent. If elected, the former tech entrepreneur and White House fellow would be the first independent elected to statewide office.
His four years as insurance commissioner in the 2000s, he argues, is a proven record of helping homeowners collect claims and combating fraud.
Poizner was raised in Houston, Texas, and graduated with a master’s degree from Stanford University.
Recommended by: The Mercury News & East Bay Times
A public school teacher-librarian in San Francisco, Hrizi says her top policy priority is the creation of a state-run single payer health insurance system and the abolition all private insurance companies.
She is also the editor of the quarterly magazine, “Breaking the Chains: A Socialist Perspective on Women’s Liberation.” This is the second time she has applied for the position of Insurance Commissioner.