State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, a two-term incumbent and former state lawmaker, has decided against running for another term in 2018.
Hudgens served in the state House and Senate from the Athens area, rising to chairman of Senate Insurance Committee, before running in 2010 to replace longtime commissioner John Oxendine, who ran unsuccessfully for governor.
Hudgens has been criticized by some over the past few years as insurance rates rose. Last year he issued a consumer alert when Allstate filed for an average 25 percent auto insurance rate hike, but the commissioner wound up saying there was little he could do about it taking effect.
Like past commissioners, he was also criticized for being close to the industry he regulated, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the industry.
“I ran for insurance commissioner because I believed I could be an effective advocate for consumers,” Hudgens said. “My office has helped consumers get payments after insurance companies originally denied claims and has aggressively pursued insurance fraud. I focused on those consumer protections while also working to make sure we had a competitive marketplace.”
Hudgens’ agency was most recently in the news when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the department overspent its budget and had to lay off staffers and furlough employees.
Besides regulating the insurance industry, the commissioner serves as the state fire marshal and regulates the small loan industry.
Deputy Commissioner of Insurance Jay Florence and fellow Republican, health care provider Shane Mobley, along with Tomeka Kimbrough, an insurance agent and Democrat, have already filed fundraising paperwork to run for the job. Jim Beck, a longtime aide in the insurance commissioner’s office who has also served as president of the Georgia Christian Coalition, is expected to run as well.
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