INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: Davis Nominates Former Judge Low
Hoping to "restore integrity and credibility" to the Department of Insurance, Gov. Gray Davis (D) Monday appointed retired judge Harry Low as the state insurance commissioner, replacing former commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, the Los Angeles Times reports. Davis said that he selected Low rather than a politician because he thought the former judge "would not be tempted, as Quackenbush was, to put politics ahead of 'the people we serve'" (Ellis, 8/1). Davis added, "I wanted to do one thing and one thing only -- take the politics out of the Department of Insurance. We should not have insurance commissioners making side deals with insurance companies for not-for-profit organizations that turn out to benefit their own political ambitions" (Mendel, San Diego Union Tribune, 8/1). Low spent 26 years as a San Francisco judge, including 10 years in the state's appellate court. Since his retirement in 1992, he has served as an arbitrator in a variety of private business and civil disputes (Chiang, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/1). Low plans to take office by mid-September and will serve the two remaining years of Quackenbush's term. He said he "has not ruled out ... running for insurance commissioner when his term expires," but added that he will not accept campaign contributions while in office. Davis said he expects a "quick approval" from the state Legislature, where a majority in both chambers is required.
Many state lawmakers praised Davis' nomination, pointing to Low's "unquestioned honesty and intelligence." State Senate Insurance Committee Chair Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) said, "Justice Low's reputation is sterling. California consumers can take solace in knowing that there will be someone at the helm who will be judicious in regulating the insurance industry and protecting the consumers of our state" (Los Angeles Times, 8/1).