03/18/12 — Goodwin campaigns to stay in top insurance spot

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Goodwin campaigns to stay in top insurance spot

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on March 18, 2012 1:50 AM

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North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin talks to John Henderson as he enters Wilber's Barbecue during his first campaign stop for re-election in Wayne County.

Wilber's Barbecue was once again the backdrop for a campaign stop in the run-up to the 2012 elections as the state's incumbent insurance commissioner was in town Friday to talk with supporters.

Wayne Goodwin, a native of Richmond County, visited with constituents and made his case for why he should be re-elected to oversee the state's insurance policies.

Goodwin began by explaining his background as an attorney and his career in the General Assembly beginning in 1996. He was elected the state's commissioner of insurance beginning in November 2008.

Goodwin explained that the role of the insurance commissioner is a balancing act between appeasing insurance companies to encourage them to deal within the state, and protecting consumers from hikes, to ensure fairness and investigate fraud. There are 11 states nationwide that have an elected commissioner and in North Carolina the office is a part of the N.C. Council of State. The commissioner also acts as the state's fire marshal.

All said, however, Goodwin said the importance of the job lies in its connection to consumer spending.

"It really comes down to how it affects your pocketbook," he said, noting that through rebates, rate cuts and restitution, his office had saved more than $1 billion in his first four years in office.

He also boasted that North Carolina has the eighth-lowest car insurance rate in the country, citing that as evidence of his ability to balance between consumer relations and relationships with insurance companies.

He noted in his speech that his three Republican challengers, one of which will be selected in the May 8 primary, all work or have worked for insurance companies. He said he sees himself as the consumer choice.

"We need to keep this office independent and I have no ties to the insurance industry," he said.

He also said that if he is not re-elected, there is a chance for a total changeover of his 40-person staff, something he said could halt progress he's made in reducing consumer costs for insurance.

"We've got more work to do," he said, asking the nearly 20 gathered to vote and ask others to vote for him, citing bi-partisan support.