The editorial board operates independently from the UT newsroom but holds itself to similar ethical standards. We base our editorials and endorsements on reporting, interviews and rigorous debate, and strive for accuracy, fairness and civility in our section. Disagree? Let us know.
Given the terrifying threat posed by the climate emergency, being state insurance commissioner is a daunting task. If wildfires continue to burn at least 1.5 million acres a year — as has been the case since 2017 — keeping the insurance industry afloat while also making certain it can pay valid claims to potentially tens of thousands of fire victims is a huge challenge. But in California that challenge is complicated by the fact that Democratic incumbent Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara — who ran in 2018 as a passionate advocate for policyholders — took campaign contributions from the insurance industry even though he pledged not to and then repeatedly sided with his donors in overruling the decisions of administrative law judges affecting them.
Lara says he returned those donations, but it is fair to wonder if he is looking to be rewarded for his official actions after he is termed out and in the private sector. This history is partly why The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board strongly endorsed Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, in the June primary. His bona fides as a reformer were shown by three wildfire bills he got enacted to protect policyholders dealing with natural disasters.
Levine, alas, was edged out of the Nov. 8 runoff by Republican San Jose business owner Robert Howell. In Q&As, the engineer displays zero knowledge about the job he seeks to hold. He doesn’t know how the rate-setting process works, repeatedly asserts there are easy answers to complex problems, and says buying insurance for his home and business is all the expertise he needs. California voters need disaster relief in this race, but we feel obligated to choose the lesser evil. Informed beats uninformed. The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board reluctantly endorses Lara for insurance commissioner.