The Kansas House Insurance Committee’s longtime chairman is running for insurance commissioner, becoming the fourth declared candidate for next year’s Republican primary.
Rep. Clark Shultz of McPherson said Thursday that one of his main goals as commissioner would be ensuring that insurance companies view Kansas as “inviting” so that they’ll locate or expand in the state. He said promoting Kansas and keeping its regulations up to date would create jobs.
“I think Kansas has an opportunity,” Shultz said.
Shultz, 56, is president of a Wichita title insurance company, and he was first elected to the House in 1996. He’s been chairman of its Insurance Committee since 2005, and he’s led its rules committee as well.
He said he’s thought about running for insurance commissioner for several years but always intended to wait until three-term Republican incumbent Sandy Praeger retired. Praeger has said that she’s unlikely to seek another four-year term.
Shultz set up a campaign committee and appointed his treasurer last month. The GOP primary is August 2014.
“These open seats tend to attract a lot of people unless there’s one obvious candidate,” said Clay Barker, the Kansas GOP’s executive director.
Also running for the Republican nomination are Beverly Gossage, of Eudora, the director of a health insurance consulting company; David Powell, an El Dorado insurance agent, and Ken Selzer, a Leawood certified public accountant who’s also an insurance industry executive. Powell ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for commissioner in 2002 and 2010, losing both times to Praeger.
No Democratic candidates have publicly announced plans to run.
Praeger gained a reputation in industry and regulatory circles as an expert on health insurance issues, but she frustrated many fellow Republicans with her limited praise for the federal health care overhaul in 2010 championed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat. She said the law provided greater access to coverage for millions of Americans who’ve been uninsured.
The four Republicans running to replace her are critics of the federal health care law. Shultz said the law is seriously flawed and he expects Congress to modify it. But he also said “there’s only so much a state can do” in response to a federal measure.
Shultz is touting his legislative experience. Both Praeger and her predecessor as commissioner, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, served in the Legislature.