Archive for Friday, July 28, 2006

Praeger seen as vulnerable in race for insurance post

July 28, 2006


— Trying to persuade 100 or so fellow Republicans to nominate him for insurance commissioner in Tuesday's primary, Eric Carter calls to the back of the room and asks his 11-year-old son where the boy's new football was manufactured.

After a beat, the boy answers, "China."

Carter then suggests his son's birthday present and other products are made overseas because frivolous lawsuits against businesses plague the American legal system - and that he can do something about it if elected.

The folksy moment was in keeping with a campaign that emphasizes yard signs and forums like the one at Abilene senior center. But it belied Carter's aggressive effort to oust incumbent Sandy Praeger, whom he has accused of not being a real Republican.

Praeger's mediums of choice have been television and billboards. She has responded to Carter with an TV ad depicting him as a frequent luncheon companion for lobbyists and as a bobble-headed carpetbagger for moving to Kansas 10 years ago.

There's a reason for the harsh tone. Many Republicans think Praeger stands a good chance of becoming the first commissioner to lose a primary.

"Based on yard signs, I'd say yes. Based on television, I'd say no," said House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka. "This one is going to be a barn burner."

Voters first elected Praeger the state's insurance regulator in 2002, after she had served 12 years in the Legislature. Carter, an Overland Park attorney, has served in the House since 2003.

On the Net

Carter campaign: Praeger campaign:

It's not just their campaigning styles that contrast.

At 61, Praeger was born just before the post-World War II baby boom. She calls herself a moderate; some Republicans label her a liberal. Carter is 34, part of the conservative movement that's come to dominate the Kansas GOP over the past decade.

"I don't think one voter in 10 is going to worry about the issues," said Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political scientist who served on Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' staff. "I think they will vote against Praeger because she is not a conservative Republican in any way, shape or form."

The primary winner will face Rep. Bonnie Sharp, D-Kansas City, who has no primary opponent, in the Nov. 7 general election, as well as Libertarian Patrick Wilbur, of Lawrence.

Praeger raised nearly $304,000 for her campaign through last week. Half that - about $155,000 - paid for television ads.

Carter raised nearly $181,000, enough to make the race competitive. However, his biggest expense was yard signs, which cost him about $23,000.

Praeger repeatedly says she has brought a balanced approach to regulating the industry, protecting consumers while creating a climate that has attracted 100 new companies to Kansas.

"If it's about insurance issues, I don't know why I have an opponent," Praeger said during an interview. "I look at my record of service these past four years, and there's nothing to find fault with, in my humble opinion."

Joe Hart, a Pittsburg insurance agent, said he was surprised initially that Praeger had a primary opponent. He considers her a good listener, and he has no complaints with how she has balanced consumer interests with the industry's needs.

"I think she's done a good job for us," Hart said. "I'd like to see her serve another term."

Carter contends there isn't enough market competition, especially among health insurers, and that rising premiums are testimony to that. Also, he said, most of the companies new to Kansas are writing life or property and casualty policies rather than health coverage.

In Abilene, he asked audience members to raise their hands if they were happy with what they were paying for health insurance, eliciting chuckles because no one was.

Carter contends the state could do more to prevent exorbitant damage awards in lawsuits. For example, he said, Kansas is too liberal about who can testify as an expert witness at a trial.

He also carries with him copies of a July 2004 Lawrence Journal-World story headlined, "Praeger endorses Kerry's health care plan." Praeger said she actually favored one element in 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's plan, similar to an idea President Bush later incorporated in a proposal.

There's also Praeger's appearances with Sebelius across the state late in 2004, touting a doomed legislative proposal to raise tobacco taxes $50 million a year to fund health initiatives.

"Now she's trying to pretend like this never happened," Carter said.

"You really can't find an issue that differentiates Republicans from Democrats where she's not on the side of the Democrats," he said.

To blunt that, Praeger campaign stalwarts include such GOP luminaries as Nancy Kassebaum Baker and Bob Dole, and one TV ad pictured her with President Bush.

In a campaign update Thursday, former Attorney General Bob Stephan called Praeger "the true Republican," adding, "Please don't fall prey to Mr. Carter's ruthless, misinformed agenda."

However, Carter's criticism could resonate in the primary, where conservatives' fortunes are boosted by a well-organized and energized base that turns out more voters than moderates.

In Ottawa, agent Bruce Osladil contributed $100 to Carter's campaign, even though he acknowledges he has no complaints with Praeger.

Carter stopped by his office and talked to him, and Osladil liked the candidate's demeanor. Also, he liked Carter's 100 percent rating as a House member from the National Federation of Independent Business, a group to which Osladil belongs.

"I knew she was a liberal when she was over in the Statehouse before," Osladil said. "I'm a conservative. I'm going to go conservative when I can on things."


Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 9 months ago

Arminius, I am sure you intend that post to be neither as paternalistic, nor as belittling, to African-Americans as it reads.

Jamesaust 11 years, 10 months ago

So, we may conclude:

A) you cannot cite any statement and frankly have no idea what it was,

B) this is yet another Arminius dodge to avoid the topic - you're clueless about the insurance issues but you can invent other distractions off-topic.

justthefacts 11 years, 10 months ago

There is a reason that Blacks in America vote 9 to 1 democrat over republican"

Yes there is. Talk to the Black Republicans - Like Mr. Freeman who heads the party in Kansas - or Black independents (read anything written Deborah Dickerson) and you might get a different take on why your statistic is true.....but sad.

It is time that minority voters wake up and realize that voting for ANY party lock step only hurts their chance at getting real political power/clout (and making real changes in society). Talk to most Blacks, one-on-one, about their views on things like abortion, gay rights, fighting crime and other hot potatoe political issues. If they are being honest, you will find that there is a streak of hard core "conservative" morals and value in most minority homes. But, rather then vote for a candidate or party who espouses the same values, the D candidate still gets the check mark, more often then not? Why?

Not because they think the D's will support the values they espouse. They now know better (at least if they've been paying attention).

Rather, the habit is old and hard to break, and the D's play on the fears of "THEM". They repeat the mantra of "Big Business will be force you out into the cold because they are racist." And generations taught that mantra keep repeating it, despite the facts to the contrary.

It is hoped that all citizens will vote in all elections. Those who do not exercise their rights risk losing them.

It is also hoped that all citizens do their home-work before voting. Do not simply believe that party affiliation alone will tell you all you need to know about an individual's intentions or values. That might have worked in the past. However, the party switch game (which is very present these days) should tell everyone that the labels do not mean anything.

Vote for the candidate(s) that promise to do things the way you want them done. And if they don't keep those promises, vote them out next time. Ignore the party affiliation. They do.

Frank Smith 11 years, 10 months ago

On a regular basis, Eric Carter never fails to remind us that he's an idiot. Well educated, well dressed, personable, but an idiot all the same.

The reason that his son's football is made in China is because Chinese employers are able to pay, on average, less than $1 an hour. There are no environmental regulations worth talking about. The reason is that Clinton and his Republican congressional friends gave China "Most Favored Nation" status without asking for anything in return.

Tort "reform" won't bring those footballs back to the U.S. , but "fair trade," instead of "free trade," could help. Of course Carter is an ideological animal, incapable of any such understanding. If we get him, we get the insurance companies writing the regulations controlling their industry.

justthefacts 11 years, 10 months ago

Doesn't Mr. Carter advocate an end to insurors covering mental health care costs? If so, anybody out there NOT have a friend or family member who needs (or needed) a counselor or some kind of mental health tune-up at one time??? Who could afford such care without insurance???

Jamesaust 11 years, 10 months ago

After some scuffles over whether Carter failed to vote in most elections, Carter explained that he was new to Kansas and didn't understand that the winner of the GOP primary was often (practically) the general election winner (and so didn't vote in any of the primaries).

Carter seems to have learned this lesson.

In Kansas, conservative Reps sometimes fight a scorched-earth race in the primary against fellow Republicans. Sometimes they win the primary only to be defeated in the general election when many Republicans opt for other choices.

Or, in races like this where this is effectively no Democrat with any heft, they win - but Party voters have long memories and the usual response is to recruit and elect a strong Democrat in the next election. Ergo, Sebelius, or Moore.

(Or I suppose Praeger could pull a "Lieberman" and run as an independent or write-in on the fall ballot.)

Will Carter learn this lesson early, or late? For a man who seems to have bigger ambitions than Insurance Commissioner, one would think that making a good impression on the Party would be more important than winning a race.

Jamesaust 11 years, 10 months ago

Btw - anyone who believes helmets - or anything else - is "made in China" as a result of "frivolous lawsuits" or that the country of manufacture protects one from a lawsuit - or for that matter that the Insurance Commissioner has anything to do writing the state's product liability laws, please raise your hand. (I have a politician to sell you.)

Anyone dissatisfied with their health care insurance premiums and believes that they will be lower - rather than higher - four years from now if you elect the right Insurance Commissioner, please raise your hand. (That's right. Yes, I do.)

Diana Lee 11 years, 10 months ago

I'm completely frightened by the suggestion that Eric Carter has a chance to win this primary. It's painful to listen to his crackpot ideas.

theemotleycrude 11 years, 10 months ago

You realize this is just a stepping stone in Carter's desire to be governor.

ModSquadGal 11 years, 10 months ago

Sandy Praeger is a good, honest, moderate insurance commissioner. Why should that last descriptor be a negative? It's so typical of the Republicans to cry "non-loyal liberal" in regards to anyone not taking a hard-line, far right track in politics. It's not that difficult to see that being moderate allows one to see BOTH sides of an issue and do what is best for the ENTIRE constituency, not just the freaks out on the fringe.

Eric Carter appears to have an agenda and a bone to pick. It's obvious he cares less about the position and more about moving up the political ladder. I say we vote in the person who has been doing a great job already and who WANTS to continue to be an effective, successful Insurance Commissioner... Sandy Praeger.

cutny 11 years, 10 months ago

Chinese football = frivolous lawsuits = Carter's crackpot history. Praeger's never been anything but a solid, competent regulator. Carter's too far right and far too much of a FREAK to pose anything more than a loud-mouthed wannabe threat to her seat.

DaREEKKU 11 years, 10 months ago

I agree with most of you. Praeger is moderate, but most importantly she does a good job. I think that's what this whole Term with Sebelius has been about, not about party lines, but about who can do the best job without the nonesense. If you'll notice only the Republicans are the one touting party lines "libbie labeling" and mud slinging. I don't see the moderate Democrats doing that here in Kansas.

fletch 11 years, 10 months ago

I support Eric Carter! His victory in the primary will ensure Bonnie Sharp's victory in Novemeber.

fletch 11 years, 10 months ago

Remember folks, the Republican Party is "The Party of Inclusion" unless you're a moderate, or gay, or black, or Hispanic, or Muslim, or pro-choice, or pro-education.

Jamesaust 11 years, 10 months ago

Hermann - its always fascinating watching your mind at work.

"She also compared abortions to vascetomies when debating a 24-hour waiting period for abortion."

The original was something like 'women need a government-imposed waiting period for abortions like men need such a period for vasectomies.' In January, you had it to be something like 'during a debate on waiting periods for abortions she also suggested a waiting period on vasectomies.' By fall, it'll be: Praeger said that mandatory vascetomies was a key plank on her platform.

Just like some fishing stories seem to grow the more times they're told, your fibs seem to expand the more they echo inside your head.

bcfromkc 11 years, 10 months ago

I am not even going to state a position here about either person. I know them both outside this race and they are decent enough people. I do have a favorite but choose not to share who it is.

I am quite tired of seeing insults against people who express an opinion here and/or the candidates themselves. Since I know both these folks, I know the insults are inaccurate and say much more about the insulter than the insulted.

common_cents 11 years, 10 months ago


Remember folks, the Republican Party is "The Party of Inclusion" unless you're a moderate, or gay, or black, or Hispanic, or Muslim, or pro-choice, or pro-education.

Hi... Hispanic Republican here... and I feel quite included, thank you very much. Oh, and by the way, people within the party with whom I have met have NEVER called me an Hispanic... they call me an American.

You just keep pointing out peoples' differences so we can all see what you are about.

common_cents 11 years, 10 months ago


Don't forget, the Dems STILL have as one of their senators, Robert Byrd, a former grand dragon of the KKK who even one year ago uttered the "N" word on Fox News.

Put that one in your hat. Go Dems!

common_cents 11 years, 10 months ago

Oh yeah... and don't forget he also filibustered for 14 hours and 13 minutes AGAINST the civil rights act in 1964.

But I guess that's okay.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

I am more stupid now than I was before I read the comments above. It's a frigging race for INSURANCE COMMISSIONER! Some of you present your talking points as if you are defending an inept president...

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

Arminius- You are quite possibly the biggest douchebag I have ever met, and that's saying a lot considering that I work for Congress.

I was wondering...can you find a way to blame Bill Clinton for Sandy Praeger?

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

Should read "have ever encountered," considering that we have never met face-to-face.

Frankly, I think we should keep it that way.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago


Since you seem to take so much pride in your ad hominem attacks, I guess turnabout is fair play.



Candid shot of Arminus "working" out of his mom's basement.

Love, staff04

Jamesaust 11 years, 10 months ago

Hermann, since you haven't addressed, disputed, or restricted anything I said, we all will just conclude that you don't have a clue. Chase your tail round and round if you want. No one is watching.

Staff's got it right - where's the Praeger/Clinton connection?

SpeedRacer 11 years, 10 months ago

I do not look at the Insurance Commissioner from a party viewpoint. This is not a really political position. I look at the position from the viewpoint of a person who expects the officeholder to be an advocate for the consumer. After the Commissioner declined to look into the American Family refusal to pay for a damaged home as reported in the LJW last week, then the turnaround in her decision after receiving negative press, I have second thoughts about her advocacy. As yet, I don't see any candidate who I would regard as someone I trust to fight for me against crooked insurors.

LiberalDude 11 years, 10 months ago

Hey Common_Cents,

There is a reason that Blacks in America vote 9 to 1 democrat over republican. Don't be trying to pull this we're the open-minded party crap. You're record shows otherwise. You're the party for rich, White males who love making money through big business and idiots who can't think for themselves and vote the way their preacher tells them to.

Jamesaust 11 years, 10 months ago

"Come on, defend her statement."

A) What exactly was her statement? Cite it (and don't give us your "cite" b.s.)

B) What does the subject have to do with insurance?

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