Based on her experience and service to Kansans, Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger should be Republicans' choice in the Aug. 1 primary.
Although it's unusual for an incumbent officeholder to face a challenge from within his or her own party, Praeger is being opposed by another Republican in what has been characterized as a contest between the moderate and conservative factions of the party. Her opponent has focused considerable energy on questioning Praeger's qualifications as a "real" Republican, but the fact that the insurance commissioner has been endorsed by such mainstream Kansas Republicans as former Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum seems to support her Republican credentials.
From a practical standpoint, the service provided to Kansas residents by the insurance commissioner's office doesn't have much to do with partisan politics anyway. In her first term, Praeger has done a good job of balancing the interests of consumers against the needs of insurance companies.
It's important to work with insurance companies that want to do business in Kansas because competition helps keep rates reasonable and services strong. According to Praeger's count, more than 100 new insurance companies have joined the Kansas market since she took office, and only a handful have left. The state has lost just one health insurance company, while four other health insurers have expanded operations.
Praeger also has a strong record for helping consumers, as illustrated recently by her follow-up of an insurance claim filed by a Lawrence woman for a cracked support beam in her home. While Praeger's opponent said he would attack health insurance costs by pursuing such items as a rollback of the state's mandate for mental health coverage, Praeger has been supportive of mental health parity.
As a former Lawrence mayor and state senator, Praeger's integrity and work ethic are well known to local residents, and the Journal-World supports her re-election as state insurance commissioner.