STATE FARM'S HEAD ON A PLATTER
What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dale faces tough battle: Katrina still storms insurance chief's race

By Sid Salter
ssalter@clarionledger.com

[A.M. in the Morning! NOTE: George Dale sure does have a lot in common with U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. both are turncoats, DINO's--Democrat In Name Only.]


Neck deep in the toughest political race of his storied four-decade career in Mississippi politics, the answer for eight-term incumbent Democratic Insurance Commissioner George Dale may be blowing in the winds of 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

What a difference four years has made for Dale. In his last race in 2003, Dale got 610,341 votes or 71.37 percent of the vote in the general election and was unopposed in the Democratic Primary.

But on March 17, Dale was denied ballot certification by the Mississippi Democratic Party Executive Committee, which cited his lack of loyalty to the Democratic Party. One of Dale's apparent acts of disloyalty was a public declaration of his intent to support Republican President George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

Dale went to court to fight the decision and also sought to enter the general election as an independent.

On May 14, a Calhoun County Circuit judge ordered the Mississippi Democratic Party to reinstate Dale on the party's August 7 primary ballot. Additionally, the judge denied Dale's request to run as an independent.


With many Gulf Coast insurance customers still in the limbo of litigation or mediation on hurricane-related insurance claims from 2005, Dale's critics have centered their attacks on Dale's relationship with insurance companies and the suggestion that it is somehow Dale's fault that insurance companies have tried to avoid paying claims - particularly in the controversial "wind-versus-water" cases.

Even from his own party, Dale has been attacked for taking campaign contributions from insurers. Dale's Democratic opponent, Gary Anderson, said at a Capitol news conference last month: "It's unethical to take money from the people you regulate. You can't protect the pocketbook of consumers if you are in the pocketbook of insurance companies."

Dale, stung by a series of television and newspaper ads paid for by nationally renowned Oxford trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs, responded: "I don't like to raise money; I never have. I accept money only from legal sources, and I have to do this when my opponent (Anderson) is being financed by a billion-dollar tobacco lawyer" (Scruggs).

On March 25, a newspaper ad depicted Dale as a pig covered with pink lipstick by State Farm Insurance executives with the caption "Lipstick on a pig."

But since Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, one general Dale ally who has offered broad if infrequent praise of Dale's negotiations with the insurance companies - particularly Dale's action in getting State Farm to reopen cases in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties - is Republican Gov. Haley Barbour.

Mississippi State University Stennis Institute director Marty Wiseman said the "general disarray of the Democratic Party" remains a wild card in Dale's race, particularly in the primary.
Democratic candidates seeking the insurance commissioner's post include:

• Dale, 66, of Clinton. He is a native of Jefferson Davis County and a graduate of Prentiss High School and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Mississippi College. He is a former teacher, coach and administrator in the Moss Point school system.

Dale has held the insurance commissioner's post since 1976 and is the longest-serving elected commissioner in the nation.

• Byhalia native Gary Anderson, 51, of Jackson. A former Department of Finance and Administration executive director during the Ronnie Musgrove administration, Anderson has served in state government under five governors. He is presently a self-employed consultant.

Anderson is a graduate of Northwest Community College and holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from Ole Miss.

"Whether it relates to Hurricane Katrina or not, an insurance policy is a commitment. It's a two-way street: A family pays the premium, they will have coverage from their insurance company. Mississippi's families deserve a fair deal," said Anderson.

For the list of Republicans running for this office, read the rest of the Clarion Ledger article.


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