Close Race for Insurance Commissioner

Assemblyman Mike Villes, Republican Candidate for Insurance Commissioner

Assemblyman Mike Villes,
Republican Candidate for Insurance Commissioner

As we approach the final weeks before the November 2nd election, it appears that candidates Assemblyman Mike Villines (R-Clovis) (pictured at left) and Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) (pictured below at right) are neck and neck.   The polling numbers vary depending on the source—one poll has them tied at 39.  Villines internal poll shows he is up by 2.  A poll conducted by Jones reportedly has him leading by 5.
According to the latest candidate financial summaries, Jones has approximately $1.2 in cash on hand, while Villines has approximately $200,000.  Jones has been holding onto his money, while Villines has been spending his money on media buys in an effort to raise his name ID.  Villines has also been receiving some assistance from the business community in the form of independent expenditures (IE).  The California Chamber of Commerce contributed $2 million to an IE for television advertisements a few weeks ago.  JobsPAC, another business group, contributed another $1.3 million this past week, bringing the IE total in support of Villines to $3.3 million.  Some of the funds, approximately $1million, were spent on advertising opposing Jones.

Assemblyman Dave Jones, Democratic Candidate for Insurance Commissioner

Assemblyman Dave Jones,
Democratic Candidate for
Insurance Commisioner

Jones has continuously accused the insurance industry of working through business groups such as the Chamber and JobsPAC to smear his name and defeat him.  Jones has even gone as far to send out alerts naming insurer contributors he believes are funding the IE’s.  Meanwhile, Villines has been fighting back, stating that Jones has knowingly solicited funds from a range of special interests whose issues and revenues are directly affected by the Department of Insurance.  Specifically, Villines campaign reported that Jones has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from attorneys representing clients before the Commissioner of Insurance, and similarly has taken hundreds of thousands from health care interests he directly influences as Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and who knew he now wants to bring into the regulatory control of the Department of Insurance.  
As we go into the final stretch, politicos are saying the winner will be the candidate with the most name ID.  Both candidates are from Northern California and virtually unknown in the most populated areas of the state.  In the primary, Villines got some negative attention from a Los Angeles radio show for casting a vote on the budget with Democrats.  However, the independent budget vote is the same reason Villines is getting endorsed by some unlikely papers such as the San Francisco Chronicle.  Also a factor in the race is the absentee ballots.  In the primary, it was the absentee ballots that pushed Villines to a late victory over Department of Insurance employee Brian Fitzgerald.  Villines spent a lot of money early in his campaign for the general election in an effort to raise his name ID early for those voters casting their votes by absentee.  Jones has been holding his money, which may hurt him in the end.
Stay tuned…it’s going to come down to the wire!