The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) has launched a new Web site, www.stateelections2004.com, to help provide insurance professionals with information about this fall’s state elections.
The new Web site is similar to one that NAMIC produced to monitor state election races in 2002. In the weeks just prior to that year’s election, some 5,800 unique visitors a day viewed that Web site.
“Although much of the media’s attention is focused this year on the Presidential and Congressional races, there are a number of important state elections whose outcome will directly affect insurance industry public policy initiatives for years to come,” said Roger Schmelzer, Senior Vice President of State and Regulatory Affairs for NAMIC.
Eleven states-Delaware, Indiana, Missouri Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah Vermont, Washington and West Virginia-are holding gubernatorial elections this fall, Schmelzer noted.
Three states-Montana, Washington and West Virginia-are holding “open” races because the incumbent is either retiring or has chosen not to seek re-election. In two states-Missouri and Utah-voters and party officials have already chosen candidates other than the incumbents.
In addition to the gubernatorial races, voters in 44 states will help to elect 78 percent of the country’s 7,382 state legislators.
“The National Conference of State Legislators has noted that a shift of three legislative seats could affect the outcome of as many as 26 state legislative chambers this fall,” Schmelzer said. “This makes these races extremely important to the insurance industry and will definitely play a role in how successful the industry is in pursuing its state agendas over the next two years.”
Schmelzer also noted that 11 states will elect Attorneys General, while the person who becomes Attorney General in New Hampshire, an appointed position, will depend on the outcome of the gubernatorial race
Five states – Delaware, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Washington – will elect insurance commissioners this fall, but only Delaware will see an “open race” due to the retirement of Insurance Commissioner Donna Lee Williams, who is finishing her third four-year term in office. Incumbents in the other four states all have opponents this fall, but they should each win re-election.
Schmelzer said a new feature of this year’s election Web site would be the monitoring of state Supreme Court judicial races.
“Twenty states are electing a total of 44 justices this fall,” Schmelzer said. “The outcome of these races can sometimes more directly affect the ability of insurers to operate successfully in a state than any gubernatorial or state legislative contests.”
Among the most closely watched judicial races this year are likely to be in Mississippi and Ohio, where four Supreme Court judicial seats are being contested in each of those states. Another important race should be the “open” Fifth Judicial District race in Illinois.
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