SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) conceded defeat in the race for state insurance commissioner on Wednesday, sparing incumbent Ricardo Lara from facing off against a fellow Democrat in what was anticipated to be a brutal campaign.
Instead, Lara will contest the November election against Republican cybersecurity equipment manufacturer Robert Howell. Howell finished second in the June election, defeating Levine by about 5,000 votes.
That was enough to get through the “top-two” primary process in California and move on to the general election. Lara won the primary over nine other insurance candidates, but she received only 36% of the vote.
Levine acknowledged supporters in a thank-you email by stating that taking on an incumbent was “always going to be an uphill battle.”
Levine said in an email distributed on Wednesday that “many political observers assumed we had no chance, but we ran a spirited race, and elevated issues that too many Californians find daunting into the debate.” Holding insurance companies accountable was a campaign slogan for us from the start, and by the end of the contest, the incumbent was making it a key component of his platform as well.
Millions of Californians purchase home, auto, and other insurance policies through the state insurance commissioner, but the elections typically draw far less voter interest than the most competitive races for governor or the U.S. Senate.
Levine ran a tough campaign against Lara in the primary this year, claiming that she was too cozy with the insurance companies he oversees.