NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Longtime Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler looks all set to win a sixth term

The longest-serv­ing mem­ber of Wash­ing­ton State’s exec­u­tive depart­ment appears to be a lock for reelec­tion to a sixth straight term as Wash­ing­ton State’s Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er, NPI’s recent poll of six hun­dred and ten like­ly vot­ers has found.

52% of respon­dents said they are back­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Krei­dler for anoth­er four years, while 30% said they were vot­ing for Krei­dler’s Repub­li­can oppo­nent, Chi­rayu Avinash Patel. 18% said they were not sure.

Krei­dler, sev­en­ty-sev­en, first ran for statewide office in 2000 as part of a statewide Demo­c­ra­t­ic tick­et that con­sist­ed of Gary Locke for Gov­er­nor, Brad Owen for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, Chris Gre­goire for Attor­ney Gen­er­al, Bri­an Son­ntag for Audi­tor, Mike Mur­phy for Trea­sur­er, for­mer Gov­er­nor Mike Lowry for Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands, and Don Bonker for Sec­re­tary of State.

Locke, Gre­goire, Mur­phy, and Son­ntag all pre­vailed that year along with Krei­dler. They have each since left the exec­u­tive depart­ment… as have their successors.

But Krei­dler has stuck around.

Two decades lat­er, he’s still on the job, and vot­ers seem per­fect­ly con­tent to keep him there pro­vid­ing over­sight of the state’s insur­ance industry.

Krei­dler is one of three Democ­rats oust­ed from Con­gress in the “Repub­li­can Rev­o­lu­tion” of 1994 who came roar­ing back into Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics at the end of the Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy and remain fix­tures in the state’s polit­i­cal land­scape today.

Inslee, the last Demo­c­rat to rep­re­sent Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton in Con­gress, was the first to get even with the Wash­ing­ton State Republicans.

In 1998, after mov­ing across the Cas­cades, he defeat­ed incum­bent Rick White in a mar­quee bat­tle in the 1st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, which at the time con­sist­ed pri­mar­i­ly of Sno­homish and East King neigh­bor­hoods assigned the 425 area code.

Inslee held the seat for over a decade, vacat­ing it in 2012 to run for gov­er­nor. (Inslee had pre­vi­ous­ly run unsuc­cess­ful­ly for gov­er­nor in 1996.)

Cantwell and Krei­dler fol­lowed in Inslee’s foot­steps two years later.

Cantwell suc­cess­ful­ly chal­lenged Slade Gor­ton for the Unit­ed States Sen­ate, while Krei­dler left a job with the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices to run for Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er when eight year Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Deb­o­rah Senn opt­ed not to seek anoth­er term.

Cantwell has been reelect­ed three times to the Sen­ate, while Krei­dler has been reelect­ed four times to the exec­u­tive depart­ment. If he wins next month, and serves out his term, he will have been in the exec­u­tive depart­ment for near­ly a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry, in addi­tion to his two year stint in Con­gress and a six­teen year tenure in the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture before that.

Though Krei­dler has­n’t raised much mon­ey for his 2020 reelec­tion cam­paign, he has plen­ty of name recog­ni­tion, and that’s undoubt­ed­ly what is dri­ving his strong per­for­mance in our sur­vey, which is very good for a down­bal­lot candidate.

Here are the num­bers again and the exact ques­tion we asked:

QUESTION: The 2020 can­di­dates for Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er are Demo­c­rat Mike Krei­dler and Repub­li­can Chi­rayu Avinash Patel. Who are you vot­ing for?

ANSWERS:

  • Mike Krei­dler: 52%
  • Chi­rayu Avinash Patel: 30%
  • Not sure: 18%

Our sur­vey of six hun­dred and ten like­ly 2020 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 14th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 15th.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respondents.

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence level.

Edi­to­r­i­al boards weigh­ing in on the 2020 con­test for Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er have all backed Krei­dler for anoth­er term.

“Despite being a rel­a­tive­ly low-pro­file posi­tion, the work of the state insur­ance com­mis­sion­er touch­es the lives of every Wash­ing­ton­ian,” explained The Columbian of Van­cou­ver. “The Office of the Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er reg­u­lates insur­ance com­pa­nies doing busi­ness in Washington.”

“If you have health insur­ance, auto insur­ance, or homeowner’s or renter’s insur­ance, Kreidler’s work dur­ing five terms in office has impact­ed you.”

“Pro­mot­ing health­care com­pe­ti­tion and play­ing defense against big out-of-state insur­ance com­pa­nies requires exper­tise that Krei­dler, a sev­en­ty-sev­en-year-old Olympia res­i­dent, has devel­oped over twen­ty years in the office. An optometrist by train­ing, he’s also served in Con­gress, the Leg­is­la­ture and the US Army Reserves,” edi­to­ri­al­ized The News Tri­bune of Taco­ma.

“Krei­dler direct­ed state-reg­u­lat­ed health insur­ers to expand cov­er­age of tele­health vis­its. He issued an emer­gency order pro­tect­ing con­sumers from sur­prise COVID-19-relat­ed lab fees and ordered health insur­ers to waive copays and deductibles for coro­n­avirus test­ing,” The Seat­tle Times not­ed.

“In the last four years, his office has flagged and fought against open­ing mas­sive insur­ance tax loop­holes for big busi­ness­es, pushed through leg­is­la­tion to basi­cal­ly end sur­prise med­ical billingbanned scam­my health care shar­ing com­pa­nies, and attract­ed a cou­ple new insur­ance com­pa­nies to play in Wash­ing­ton’s health care exchange,” The Stranger’s Elec­tion Con­trol Board empha­sized.

Krei­dler’s Repub­li­can oppo­nent, Chi­rayu Avinash Patel, has­n’t been doing much cam­paign­ing, which could help explain why he per­formed more poor­ly than any oth­er Repub­li­can can­di­date in our sur­vey with just 30%.

Patel is “not run­ning a seri­ous cam­paign,” Repub­li­can oper­a­tive Glen Mor­gan declared in a post on his per­son­al web­site back in the sum­mer, adding: “He was two months late fil­ing his doc­u­ments with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion, has raised zero funds, and doesn’t real­ly know much about the office.”

“Yet, he would still be an improve­ment on Krei­dler,” Mor­gan concluded.

There aren’t many peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton who agree with that assessment.

“Patel, who describes him­self as an ‘autis­tic savant’ in cam­paign lit­er­a­ture and inter­views, also has some unusu­al ideas he hopes will win over vot­ers,” The Spokesman-Review’s Jim Cam­den report­ed last month. “If elect­ed he’d share the duties of the office with Krei­dler and Antho­ny Welti, the Lib­er­tar­i­an can­di­date elim­i­nat­ed in the [Top Two]. He’d apply the prin­ci­ples of organ­ic chem­istry, which he stud­ied at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton, to the insur­ance industry.”

“He’d rely on his con­nec­tions to the minds of Ronald Rea­gan and Thomas Jef­fer­son – with whom he says he shares a com­mon ances­tor in Genghis Khan – to help guide him in office,” Cam­den’s arti­cle went on to say.

“He said in a recent inter­view he’d set a new require­ment for insur­ance poli­cies that cov­er expen­sive items like rare paint­ings, upping the pre­mi­um and requir­ing that pol­i­cy hold­ers have a mil­i­tary tank to help pro­tect them.”

Patel is self-recruit­ed, owing to Caleb Heim­lich’s com­plete lack of inter­est (or, alter­na­tive­ly, lack of suc­cess) in find­ing an oppo­nent for Kreidler.

Vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is cur­rent­ly in progress and is set to con­clude on Novem­ber 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacif­ic in Wash­ing­ton State.

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