SACRAMENTO, CA, Nov. 9, 2018 — Democratic State Senator Ricardo Lara of Los Angeles will be the next Insurance Commissioner of California, according to final returns reported by the Secretary of State. With 100% of all precincts reporting, Sen. Lara had 50.8 percent (3,393,189) of the vote; former Commissioner Steve Poizner, running as an independent, had 49.2 percent (3,287,452).
“As California's Insurance Commissioner, I'll work tirelessly to represent the great people of California, not the corporations, the billionaire class, the pharmaceutical or the insurance companies,” the Commissioner-elect pledged on his campaign website (www.ricardolara.com). “I plan to work with anybody who is willing to come to the table, but my allegiance will always be first and foremost to the consumers, the patients, our working families, and our most vulnerable communities in our Golden State.”
Sen. Lara is a lifelong resident of Los Angeles and attended LA public schools. He was a leader in student government at San Diego State University. Dubbed by the Los Angeles Times as the "Point man in the push for immigrant rights," Senator Lara in 2016 engineered the successful statewide campaign to allow for multi-lingual education in California's schools. He was also one of the key leaders behind a landmark effort to grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants in California. He co-introduced a single-payer healthcare system for the state, spearheaded the groundbreaking law that provided health care for 170,000 immigrant children, and has supported efforts to expand Covered California.
Before winning election to the California Assembly in 2010, Lara was a legislative staffer for several years, including for then-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and for current State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon. In his first year in the Assembly, he was elected chair of the influential California Legislative Latino Caucus and currently serves as Vice Chair of the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus. In 2012, Lara became the first openly gay person of color elected to the California State Senate, and this week became the first openly gay statewide elected official in California. Lara currently chairs the influential Senate Appropriations Committee.
Senator Lara’s margin of victory was smaller than any other statewide candidate listed as a Democrat, though that is likely empty consolation for Mr. Poizner, who served in the position from 2007-11. The Poizner campaign won the endorsement of every major newspaper in California, which cited the many accomplishments of his first term, and praised his attempt to run for the office as an independent.
“While many people working in the insurance industry may have favored Mr. Poizner, it bears mentioning that we have enjoyed a close working relationship with Senator Lara throughout his years of legislative service,” said IIABCal General Counsel Steve Young. “We have always prided ourselves on our ability to work with all regulatory and elected leaders, regardless of their partisan identification or ideology, and our legislative advocates have long respected and enjoyed working with Sen. Lara.
“We look forward to working with the Commissioner-elect to improve the California insurance marketplace and to expand its benefits to all Californians.”
Lara replaces Dave Jones, whose two terms as Commissioner come to a close in early January.