• Who is Brian FitzGerald? Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Who, indeed, is Brian FitzGerald? He could well be the Republican nominee for Insurance Commissioner, depending on how the final votes turn out, in what has to be the biggest surprise of Election Day (albeit in a race few were watching).

    Brian FitzGeraldWith 99.1% of the precincts reporting as of around 6:15 a.m., FitzGerald is holding a narrow 8,417-vote lead over Assembly member Mike Villines, who seemed to have been the only Republican candidate actually campaigning for the Republican Insurance Commissioner nomination.

    Nope. Turns out FitzGerald, a Napa Valley-based attorney in the Department of Insurance for the past 16 years, was running a quiet campaign, using a blog and a promise to not spend more than $5,000. Which he seems to have kept — there are no electronic filings available for him through the Cal-Access, the state campaign finance reporting system.

    The result likely stemmed from Villines’ running afoul of the GOP anti-tax conservatives when, as leader of the Republican Assembly caucus in 2009, he accepted a tax hike as part of a budget deal. Villines eventually resigned the leadership spot.

    But, if the primary results hold up, that could leave the Reublicans with an unknown to face off against Assembly member Dave Jones, who easily won the Democratic nomination for Insurance Commissioner. This is from Fitzgerald’s blog entry on who he is and what he stands for:

    As a regulator, I will continue to protect Californians, keeping insurance practices fair and regular, resolving complaints, punishing violations and allowing reasonable rates for those companies that do business here. My view is that commerce is vital to California‚Äôs recovery and, risk being part of commerce, the insurance sector provides important coverage products. Given this philosophy, my decisions on rates will be based on the Insurance Code and, given my frugal self-funded campaign, uninfluenced by any special interests.[…]

    [In the wake of health care reform], it is my intention to see that the Department regulates the regulator and that our State receives what it was promised.

    Daily living in California requires available, affordable and reliable insurance for much of what we do and it is the purpose of the Department is to help Californians get what they need. To this end, I am already on the job, but am now asking you to allow me to do more by electing me Insurance Commissioner.

    I emailed FitzGerald this morning seeking some insights into how he ran. I’ll update the post if he responds.