We hope to be able to say in our pre-election endorsement that the person we are recommending will serve capably, ethically and responsibly. Not a single candidate for the state insurance commissioner passed this test.
The better choice in
This is a hold your nose recommendation because we feel obligated to offer voters some guidance as they choose between two terrible candidates.
Californians deserve better options to lead the 1,400-employee department responsible for overseeing health, auto and homeowners insurance rates — for regulating companies that collect more than
As we said before the primary election, Lara’s tenure was embarrassingly reminiscent of a term of infamy
In the nearly two decades since that scandal, California’s insurance commissioners have rejected campaign contributions tied to the only industry they regulate — a recognition of the need for independent oversight untainted by political money.
Until Lara came along. After pledging not to accept industry money, he broke that promise in 2018 and quickly began raising more from those he regulates for this year’s campaign after his election.
When a consumer watchdog group sued Lara for records of communications within his office and with lobbyists representing key campaign donors, his agency abruptly adopted a policy last year of automatically deleting emails after six months. However, after media scrutiny, the agency rescinded the policy in January.
It is hard to imagine a candidate who could be worse. And then Howell came in, who has little idea why he’s running or what the job of insurance commissioner entails. He was the most unprepared candidate for national office we have ever met.
“What would I do as commissioner?” answered our first question. He paused before saying “OK, that’s fair” as he seemed to search for an answer.
At one point, he finally said he would stop home insurance companies from charging more for coverage in fire-prone areas. And how would he do it? “Good question,” he replied. “The 1,400 people who work in the office should know how to fix things. That’s what people in the trenches are for. They should be doing their job.”
Howell is president and chief engineer of Exatron, a
Had Levine made it to the runoff, it would have been a very different race — with a credible, ethical candidate on the ballot. Instead, Californians face a terrible choice between Lara and Howell. Try not to mumble while casting your vote.