Hours after Jay Inslee declared he won’t be a candidate for Governor in 2024, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler published a statement announcing that he will also be exiting the executive department when his current term ends in 2025.
Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler sent an email to agency staff today confirming that he will not seek re-election.
“Serving alongside you as Insurance Commissioner for Washington state has been, and continues to be, the greatest honor of my life,” said Kreidler. “I’ve always said it was the best job I’ve ever had, and I still feel that way today.”
“The list of issues we’ve tackled could go on and on, but at the end of the day, I think of the individual people we help—the thousands of families we’ve advocated for, day after day. That, above all else, is what makes me the most proud of this agency and of all of you.”
“Now, it’s time for someone else to step forward and carry on this agency’s important consumer protection work. I know that my successor will be in good hands with all of you helping to lead the way.”
“I intend to work just as hard for the rest of my term as I have for the last 22 years and remain as committed as ever to our mission. We have a lot of work left to do together and important initiatives already underway, from increasing premium transparency for consumers to continuing to push for a robust, dependable insurance market.”
“I know that the pandemic and last few years have been hard on many of you personally and I’m grateful for your resiliency and dedication to our work. Indeed, it has been hard on all of us. Now, I wish you the very best and look forward to continuing to work alongside all of you.”
Kreidler’s relationships with the other members of the executive department or the Legislature soured after multiple former employees came forward to document a history of unprofessional conduct and demeaning comments. Governor Inslee urged Kreidler to resign, as did Speaker Jinkins and Leader Billig.
But Kreidler refused. He has stayed in office and kept a low profile.
He did not appear at this year’s State of the State Address, for instance, and he has not been seen at many public or party events.
In January, Kreidler’s office publicly released an “independent evaluation” of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s workplace culture.
This consisted of a workplace culture assessment in which 20% of the staff were interviewed and 30% of the staff took a survey. 82% of staff also participated in an anonymous employee engagement survey.
“Roughly one-third of employees reported that one of the things they like least about working at the OIC relates to the Commissioner and either media-reported behavior and/or his working style,” the report found (pages 7–8).
“These employees largely do not feel the Commissioner listens to employees and makes autocratic decisions without input from employees or concern for the impact of decisions on employees,” the report continued.
“Some employees reported feeling ashamed of the Commissioner’s alleged behavior and believe he is resistant to being held accountable to rules others are expected to follow relative to acceptable workplace behavior.”
“Several employees also cited the termination of Jon Noski, the current telework policy, and lack of adequate safety measures during the height of the pandemic as reasons for their dissatisfaction with the Commissioner.”
“Of note, while some felt the Chief Deputy shared some responsibility for these issues, others expressed belief that the Chief Deputy was doing the best he could under the circumstances and believe that he would have been terminated if he were to push back against the Commissioner.”
Kreidler, seventy-nine, has been Insurance Commissioner since January 2001 and is the longest tenured member of the executive department.
He has spent most of his life in state government. He joined the state House of Representatives in 1977 and the state Senate in 1985. In 1992, he was elected to Congress. He served a single term, losing to Republican Randy Tate in 1994.
After several years working for the Northwest Power Planning Council and then the United States Department of Health and Human Services’s Region 10 office, Kreidler decided to run for Insurance Commissioner when Deborah Senn left the job to run for U.S. Senate. He won and has been continuously reelected ever since, often trouncing Republican opponents by massive margins.
But when January 2025 rolls around, Kreidler’s almost quarter century tenure will end and Washington State will inaugurate a new insurance commissioner.