Gay insurance Czar CA Lara rallies support for Democrats, LGBTQs in reelection race

A day after Congressman Marc Levine (D-Greenbrae) announced his 2022 candidacy for California’s insurance commissioner, gay incumbent Ricardo Lara rolled out endorsements from a wide range of fellow Democrats and LGBTQ leaders. . The first LGBTQ person to win statewide election in the Golden State, Lara launched her candidacy for a second four-year term in next year’s poll in April.

According to Lara’s September 21 campaign statement, those who endorse it include all but one of her statewide fellow officials. They are Governor Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Treasurer Fiona Ma, Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond and Secretary of State Shirley Weber. Controller Betty Yee is the only one missing from the list.

All eight members of the LGBTQ legislative caucus, of which Lara was a member when he served in the legislature, supported Lara. They are lesbians, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and MP Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona); gay Senators John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco); bisexual MP Alex Lee (D-San Jose); and gay MPs Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Chris Ward (D-San Diego).

Other state lawmakers backing Lara include MPs Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), and Senators Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles). .

“The Insurance Commissioner, Ricardo Lara, has defended the Latin American community through our most difficult battles. He has been a champion of health for all from day one. We stand by his side as an unprecedented leader for consumer rights, especially for under-represented communities. Said Durazo, who chairs the Latino Legislative Caucus.

During Pride Month in June, the LGBTQ Victory Fund had early supported Lara, with its CEO, Annise Parker, calling him a “true LGBTQ hero.” She noted that Lara had “used her authority to demand that the insurance industry provide better care for everyone, including our trans youth, those who are HIV positive and our LGBTQ seniors.”

Last week, Equality California, the state-wide LGBTQ rights organization, followed suit and quickly endorsed Lara. Currently, he is one of two statewide candidates in 2022. Sacramento County, lesbian, Anne Marie Schubert, an independent, is running against Attorney General Rob Bonta, a former member of the Oakland Democratic State Assembly whose wife, Mia Bonta, was elected. last month to serve the remainder of his term until next December.

EQCA spokesman Samuel Garrett-Pate did not respond to the Bay Area Reporter’s request for comment for this story. But in the statement released last week by Lara’s Campaign, he noted that “as the state’s only LGBTQ elected official, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is an indispensable voice for our community and advocates for coverage of health care for all. He has our unequivocal support. . “

Bumpy first term
Lara, originally from Los Angeles, faced a bumpy first term with self-imposed blunders and continues to be a lightning rod for critics from various groups. But he has also seemed to grow in his role since being sworn in in January 2019, when he was hailed as “our own Latino Harvey Milk” by former state lawmaker Art Torres, who is out of the closet in 2009 after leading California. Democratic Party as long-time president.

Torres, who lost his own candidacy for state insurance commissioner in 1994, was referring to the late San Francisco gay supervisor who was the first person elected to public office in California in 1977. But a few months after that Lara led the California Department of Insurance, the San Diego Union-Tribune raised questions about her meeting with a major insurance executive with cases before her department, a possible violation of state law and her intervention in matters affecting a donor.

He also reported that Lara had accepted donations from the insurance industry, which he ruled out when applying for the statewide job in 2018. In response, Lara told the Union-Tribune that he would hire a treasurer for his re-election campaign and return the money to him. California’s Insurance Commissioner oversees the nation’s largest insurance market, with $ 310 billion in annual policies.

Levine alluded to Lara’s stumbles and scandals when he announced his candidacy to topple him on Monday, September 20. He noted in a tweet that “It’s a tough time in California. An ongoing pandemic, raging wildfires, a rise in the cost of living and health care. At this critical time we have need real leadership. That is why I am running for the post of insurance commissioner. “

Covering Levine’s entry into the race, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that he had recently hired a former lawyer and adviser to Consumer Watchdog, the advocacy group that pushed to make the commissioner into his Assembly office. in insurance an elected position. He has been a vocal critic of Lara since he was elected to state office and had disagreed with him during his term in the Legislature.

Levine told the newspaper that he was not looking to become an insurance commissioner at the behest of or with Consumer Watchdog’s support, and that he wanted “to have a team that understands how the insurance industry works.”

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