Health advocate enters race for Georgia insurance chief

Democrat Cindy Zeldin is running for Insurance Commissioner.

A prominent Democratic health advocate entered the race for Georgia’s open Insurance Commissioner seat on Tuesday with a pledge to serve as a compassionate voice for consumers, sensing an opportunity to flip a down-ticket office that’s been held for decades by Republicans.

Cindy Zeldin, the executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, is the first high-profile Democrat to announce a bid to succeed Republican Ralph Hudgens. The two-term Republican said Monday he would not run for another stint in office.

“For too long, the office hasn’t been focused on the consumers,” said Zeldin. “The people need a champion – they need someone who will do everything to make sure they have insurance options that are fair, affordable and transparent.”

Zeldin contends the office is too cozy with insurers, and that the next commissioner should be focused “first and foremost about consumers.” She plans to step down from her advocacy group, which was one of the more forceful supporters of Medicaid expansion in Georgia.

Even with an open seat, Zeldin faces a grueling battle. Republicans have held the office since John Oxendine’s 1994 victory over Democrat Tim Ryles, and the GOP field is already getting crowded.

Healthcare provider Shane Mobley and Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence are in the race and Jim Beck – a longtime aide in the insurance office and one-time president of the Georgia Christian Coalition – is exploring a run. So is Jim Kingston, an insurance executive who is the son of former U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston. Democrat Tomeka Kimbrough, an insurance agent, has also filed paperwork to run.

All are likely to focus on consumer protection – which was also a tack that Hudgens took in his 2014 campaign for a second term. During that easy re-election victory, Hudgens aired ads pointing to $30 million his office said it won from insurers who initially refused to pay claims.

Hudgens also carried baggage. He made waves in 2013 when he declared he and his office “would do everything in our power to be an obstructionist” over the Affordable Care Act, inciting criticism from both sides of the aisle. He later dismissed those comments as “red meat” for a partisan crowd.

He faced outrage from some industry analysts as insurance rates rose over the past few years. And his office was forced to lay off staffers and furlough employees after it dramatically overspent its budget.

Zeldin, 41, said she would use the office to advocate for minor fixes – but not a full repeal – of the Affordable Care Act and spur more competition from insurers. She said she would back legislation that would give her office powers to review insurance premium increases “with a new level of scrutiny.”

She’s lined up support from a range of influential Democrats, including Red Clay Democrats chief Adrienne White and state Sen. Elena Parent. Jason Carter, the party’s 2014 nominee for governor, called Zeldin a “breath of fresh air.”

“I know her focus every day will be to ensure that Georgians are treated fairly by insurance companies and have an advocate to fight for them when they’re not,” he said. “These are human issues, not partisan issues.”

Reader Comments 0

135 comments
Nelms Graham
Nelms Graham

Socialism always works until other peoples' money runs out.

Don Brewer
Don Brewer

you're only saying something you've heard somebody else say. prove it.

Nelms Graham
Nelms Graham

Don Brewer The proof is in the financial health of any failing socialist state or country of which there are many.

Jeri Henson Dies
Jeri Henson Dies

Actually someone qualified and prepared to do the job!! Wow, that's different.

0.259375968495
0.259375968495

Cindy Zeldin represent the kind of change we need in Georgia. She knows the issues and is willing to fight for the people of this state rather than special interests.

PatrickThompson
PatrickThompson

Cindy has the right focus - the citizens and consumers in this State who are at least as important stakeholders and companies and industries. Expand Medicaid - our veterans and their families thank you. Or continue sending our tax dollars to support healthcare in States wise enough to expand Medicare to their citizens.

Jean Allen
Jean Allen

Get the hell out.We dont need or want your bull crap in our State.

0.259375968495
0.259375968495

It is unfortunate that we have people commenting with no grasp of the issues.


Kaye Graham
Kaye Graham

No! No to medicaid expansion. It needs to return to the original qualifications. Elderly, disabled -mental and/or physically, and children.

0.259375968495
0.259375968495

That is your opinion until one of your relatives who is working at a job without insurance falls ill. Then, you are a strong advocate for Medicaid expansion.



Scott Chitwood
Scott Chitwood

I officially announce that I'm running for Insurance commissioner!! My campaign promise is simple... I'll be the perfect Republican and take as much money from you as possible and support big business as we do away with those pesty mom and pop businesses..who needs competition.. I will repeal all regulations for insurer's in Ga. Our big businesses must be put first because they need bigger tax breaks so my friends can get bigger bonuses and that means they give bigger contributions to our campaigns... Remember to vote for me I need your dam money!

Dennis Berdanis
Dennis Berdanis

I'm just glad to have a candidate that isn't a rubber stamp for insurance companies against consumers.

Ashford Schwall
Ashford Schwall

Swamp creature Democrats still trying to remain relevant while flopping in the mud clinging to life as the swamp water is drained.

0.259375968495
0.259375968495

Until your working kid without insurance falls ill and needs care...

Tammy Bartlett
Tammy Bartlett

She's got my vote but I'd like to hear how she is going to get it expanded.

Rob Danner
Rob Danner

Aren't there parameters for Medicaid? Does she want to just raise the income levels? Why?

Dale Meeks
Dale Meeks

More free stuff for those able to work but will not. Sorry she will not get my vote .

0.259375968495
0.259375968495

Wrong. Medicaid expansion is primarily for WORKING people who can't afford to pay high premiums. I wish a few of the commenters knew at least a little abut insurance.

Thomas Adams
Thomas Adams

So, she is for more government spending! Just another politician that wants to screw the taxpayers!!

Ken Westbrook
Ken Westbrook

There is a big difference between the less fortunate and elderly people who need insurance and the sorry butts that sit on their rear ends wanting everything free. Washington calls it entitlements. The only thing that you are entitled to is paying taxes and dying

Richard Randall
Richard Randall

If and that's a big if she can change Georgia healthcare, I'm all for her.

Linda Briel
Linda Briel

I *hope* there are more thinking, caring people in Georgia than are evident at first glance on this thread.

Ira Lindy
Ira Lindy

She is probably as good person but the ACA is a giant turn in a punch bowl that will prevent a lot of what she claims she wants to do in this article.

Frank Cicalese
Frank Cicalese

Mark Hesselgrave Another intellectual liberal. Lmao. Keep your mother off the streets and thinks like that won't happen, jerk.

Rod Miller
Rod Miller

Another big gubmint loon ... What about the $21 trillion in debt?!

Bill Evelyn
Bill Evelyn

Idiot. She can't expand Medicaid only the legislature can do that.

Mark Hesselgrave
Mark Hesselgrave

Where TF in that article did she say she was going to single-handedly expand Medicaid?

Clifton Goodwin
Clifton Goodwin

Wow somebody who actually has experience in the field that they are running for

Sharon Pharr
Sharon Pharr

Health Advocate? Is that another non profit? I mean who isn't for Health, rather a board statement, and is she talking about govt control, more regs? My trust level has dropped zero, let's see the books on the non profit and donor list, on all of them.

David Ross
David Ross

How about educating this "intelligent" woman on the fact that our Medicaid system as it is cannot afford the current recipients. Then see if she breaks out the common core math book to explain how adding an additional 500,000+ with the Feds only matching 90% is going to be a sound fix. The same government that is in debt up to our future grandchildren's great grandchildren's eyeballs! Socialist are going to be the demise of our great nation!

Brandi Boyle
Brandi Boyle

and that debt came from War ..... some people would rather debt come from providing healthcare ... especially for vets!

David Ross
David Ross

Brandi Boyle what war did Obama wage that created more debt than the previous 43 presidents COMBINED?

Jarid Moon
Jarid Moon

Georgia, a strong bible belt state, with good Christian values. By these comments, the Georgia Republican base really would spit in the face of Jesus if they saw him providing 'socialized' healthcare to the poor, needy, and sick. It's a shame, Christians in the South are so upset and hurt, because others want to help someone less fortunate. You guys should know, one day, that less fortunate could be a family member or even yourself.

David Ross
David Ross

If your understanding of the Word is one of allowing Government to steal from one to give to another then you and I read different bibles and understand Jesus differently.

Jarid Moon
Jarid Moon

The Bible clearly tells you to pay taxes... Matthew 22:15-22 covers paying tax to Caesar... You may want to read your Bible.

Rod Miller
Rod Miller

Liberals want 'separation of church and state' on abortion and marriage redefinition, but invoke God to support government healthcare? \U0001f914

David Ross
David Ross

Jarid Moon so you believe that He meant that compassion and generosity was to be dispensed by Caesar? Given your twisted interpretation of the Bible the rich will be saved regardless of how little compassion they have towards their fellow man just as long as their government was generous?! Lol, Jesus Christ will not judge you based on the "collective".

Jarid Moon
Jarid Moon

David Ross, the rich man is covered in the Bible also. Matthew 19:24King James Version (KJV) 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Jeff Hodges
Jeff Hodges

"Blessed are the tax collectors, for true charity comes not from the heart, but through the glory of government confiscation." - What Jesus never said

Dot Plogger
Dot Plogger

We have no problem helping those in need and the less fortunate; we, however, have a problem being forced,to do it.

Jarid Moon
Jarid Moon

Jeff Hodges, I haven't seen a good private charity in a long while and Churches are just building huge mega million dollar structures and giving very little to the poor.

Jeff Hodges
Jeff Hodges

Jarid Moon Then you haven't been looking.

David Ross
David Ross

Jarid Moon let me introduce you to the wonder of the Christian faith of which with few exceptions have a congregation within walking distance of your own residence which has a youth mission either getting ready to depart to some impoverished community foreign and/or domestic or planning in the very near future at their own expense. What do you have as your bonafides?

Jerry Jackson
Jerry Jackson

PREECH IT BROTHER, help all that you can .....

Jarid Moon
Jarid Moon

Mary Anne Carpenter, if you have cancer, you aren't going to get cancer treatments without a paying insurance company backing you.

John Moss
John Moss

I think Jesus would say give a man a fish and he will be dependent, teach a man to fish and he will have abundance.