Mike Villines edges ahead in GOP Insurance Commissioner race
Thursday, June 17, 2010
It’s not often we get true down-to-the-wire races at the state level, but the Republican primary for the state Insurance Commissioner nomination is beginning to look like Florida 2000 — without the dangling chads and media frenzy (or, for that matter, the Supreme Court — yet).
County elections officials are still tabulating, but as of early this morning Assembly Mike Villines of Clovis, who had been trailing, overtook political unknown Brian FitzGerald, a Napa Valley-based attorney in the Department of Insurance for the past 16 years. But the margin remained sliver-thin at 2,746 votes and could still change as the county elections officials finish up (this is the only statewide race whose margin is small enough to be affected by the outstanding ballots).
The Republican primary had been about the quietest of the contested primaries. FitzGerald, in fact, pledged to spend no more than $5,000 in his quest for the nomination, But Villines, then the Assembly minority leader, had irked the anti-tax folks among the rank-and-file by accepting some tax hikes in a 2009 budget deal. The showdown eventually cost him his leadership post.
A quiet race with low turnout — 29.5% statewide — seems to have set the stage for a quiet upset. And in recognition of the fact that watching people count votes is as exciting as watching paint dry, we’ll update when the full count is done.