Voters in Georgia go to the polls tomorrow for a runoff election in which they will vote for one of two Republican candidates for state insurance commissioner.
The two, Maria Sheffield and Ralph T. Hudgens, survived a Republican primary with nine candidates last month. In that contest, the two each garnered about 20 percent of the vote.
Last week, in a debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting, the two tried to distance themselves from current insurance commissioner, John Oxendine. Questions of an ethics problem have arisen for Oxendine. He just made an unsuccessful run for governor during which he took contributions from insurance companies.
Hudgens said Oxendine has done a good job as commissioner and he was not going to “pass judgment” on Oxendine actions in the gubernatorial campaign.
Sheffield said ethics in government is extremely important to her and she tried to establish a relationship between Oxendine and Hudgens, noting that Oxendine gave $500 when Hudgens was running for re-election to the state’s General Assembly two years ago.
A major issue in the race for the commissioner’s office has been the federal health care reform that so many states are opposing.
Sheffield, an attorney who has worked in the state’s Department of Insurance, says she will work to mitigate the impact the federal laws passed are going to have on Georgia. She has made that position a central theme in her campaign.
Hudgens, on the other hand, says the commissioner is powerless to do anything about the new mandates. The commissioner is an administrator, not a policy maker, he says.
Hudgens currently chairs the Georgia Senate’s Insurance and Labor Committee.
The winner of this Republican run-off will face Democrat Mary Squires in the November election.