BATON ROUGE – A political game of musical chairs continued Wednesday as a former gubernatorial candidate jumped in the race for insurance commissioner and the frontrunner in the latter competition declared his exit from Louisiana politics altogether.
Following closely on the heels of his withdrawal from the governor’s race, former state Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle, a Republican, announced Tuesday his intentions to run for insurance commissioner.
At the same press conference, state Rep. Tony Perkins, R-Pride, dropped out of the race for insurance commissioner and declared he is leaving behind a life in Louisiana public service.
It all comes to an end Sept. 1 when Perkins takes over as president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, an anti-abortion group.
Despite his promises to move Louisiana forward at all costs, Perkins contends the new move is a perfect fit for his pro-family agenda.
“Rarely is there a piece of legislation passed or a court ruling handed down that doesn’t affect the family,” said Perkins. “I am honored to have been asked to lead the country’s premier public policy organization dedicated to strengthening the family and defending the sanctity of life.”
As a result of the shake-up, Perkins has thrown his support, along with that of Gov. Mike Foster, behind Kyle’s infant bid for insurance commissioner, under the condition that Kyle accepts no donations from within the insurance industry.
Kyle responded that won’t be a problem.
“I don’t want to accept any money from a company that we regulate,” he said. “It’s important that the regulator be independent.”
As for the department, Kyle said he knows it well. He did, after all, audit the insurance department as state auditor.
Kyle is promising lower rates and an administration run with honesty and integrity.
Despite the governor’s support, Foster was referring to Kyle as “Old Man” in recent weeks, an ongoing attack the governor launched against certain candidates on his weekly radio show. In return, Kyle also took a few shots at Foster during his stumping for the top spot, once stating the governor’s only legacy would be the out-migration of Louisianans.
As of press time Thursday morning, the only other declared candidate for the post was acting Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley, a Democrat. Wooley took over the department after former Commissioner Jim Brown was convicted of lying to a federal official.
State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Skinner issued a press release following the announcement of the deal cut between Kyle, Perkins and Foster.
“Republicans must be running scared of … Wooley,” Skinner said.
“They can’t decide who to run against him because they know Robert is a real reformer who knows the industry and is someone the people have confidence in. The Insurance Commissioner position is not a consolation prize… Ultimately, the people of Louisiana will decide who their elected officials will be, not a few Republican backroom deal makers.”