Candidates for Delaware Insurance Commissioner and Governor Kick-Off Campaigns

May 12, 2004

A Republican long-shot for governor and a Democratic favorite for insurance commissioner kicked off their campaigns this week with traditional stops in all three counties in Delaware.

Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper spoke on behalf of insurance commissioner candidate Matthew Denn in Dover, while the only person on hand to support David Graham’s bid for the GOP nomination for governor was the candidate himself.

Denn, former legal counsel to Minner, vowed that if elected insurance commissioner he would work to reduce auto insurance rates. He also said he would develop a statewide risk pool that would make health insurance more affordable for individuals and small businesses.

While not mentioning her by name, Denn criticized the current insurance commissioner, Republican Donna Lee Williams, for not holding insurance companies accountable when they wrongfully deny benefits to policyholders.

“I am here today to tell you that the insurance companies’ 12-year free ride is over,” said Denn, who vowed that he, unlike past candidates from both parties, would not take campaign contributions from the insurance industry.

Williams, first elected in 1992, announced in January that she would not seek a fourth term. Republicans hoping to succeed her as insurance commissioner include state Rep. Dave Ennis, R-Wilmington, and New Castle County GOP co-chair Jeff Cragg.

Denn, meanwhile, likely will face a Democratic primary challenge from Karen Weldin Stewart, the party’s candidate in 2000.

In the governor’s race, Republicans must decide among Graham, an accountant for the state Department of Finance; Michael Protack, an airline pilot from Yorklyn who made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate two years ago; and retired Superior Court Judge William Swain Lee, who barely lost the GOP nomination for governor in 2000 after a strong grassroots campaign. Lee is the favorite of party leaders this year.

Graham’s campaign got off to an inauspicious start in Dover, where a reporter and a photographer were the only people who turned out for his announcement.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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