Politics & Government
5:15 am
Fri July 6, 2012

GOP Runoff for Insurance Commissioner

Early voting is underway in North Carolina's primary run-off elections. In races in which no candidate received more than 40% of the vote in the May 8th primary, the top 2 vote-getters face off on July 17th for their party's nomination. In addition to several U.S. House and General Assembly seats, there are run-offs for 5 statewide offices. Isaac-Davy Aronson has this look at the two candidates for the Republican nomination for Insurance Commissioner.

Isaac-Davy Aronson: Former state House member Richard Morgan and retired insurance executive Mike Causey were nearly tied in the primary vote, 37 to 35 percent. Causey says voters have a clear choice.

Mike Causey: Do they want to go back to business as usual, what it was some years ago when we had such a divisive legislature, or do they want a fresh new approach with somebody that has hands-on experience in the insurance business?
Causey is referring to the last few years of Morgan's 8 terms in the House. With the chamber evenly divided along party lines in 2003, Morgan forged a coalition with the Democrats, becoming "co-House Speaker." He was ousted in a Republican primary in 2006. Morgan bristles when this period is brought up.

Richard Morgan: I don't know what you're talking about. That's in the past; this is today.

Since leaving the House, Morgan has run unsuccessfully for schools superintendent and state Senate. Now he's seeking the Insurance Commissioner's office, which he says needs to be slimmed down and "professionalized."

Richard Morgan: There's too much spending. There's too much bureaucracy. And I've really had enough of our go-along-with-Obama insurance commissioner.

Morgan says costs and therefore rates can be reduced through moves like avoiding duplicate audits of small businesses, and moving the Fire Marshall out of the Insurance Department.

His opponent, Mike Causey, says he wants to bring rates down by applying what he calls free market principles to the insurance system. He'd entice more companies into North Carolina by bringing regulations more in line with other states.

Mike Causey: There's only 8 companies besides Blue Cross Blue Shield that write health insurance. When we have approximately 160 companies that write automobile insurance, why can't we have more insurance companies writing health insurance?

Causey, who's run for Insurance Commissioner 3 times before, highlights his 30 years of experience in the industry. But Morgan says his experience steering bills through the legislature is the kind of qualification voters need. Early voting runs through July 14th.