CORRECTION: The original version of this story misstated Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s endorsement. We regret the error.
SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Embattled incumbent Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara (D) is facing Republican challenger Robert Howell as he fights to keep his job Nov. 8.
Lara, the son of immigrants, had been a state senator representing Long Beach and a state assemblyman representing Los Angeles before he was elected to statewide office as insurance commissioner in 2018. At that time he became the first gay person elected to statewide office in California.
Howell, a cybersecurity equipment manufacturer who has been president of San Jose-based Exatron since 1974, narrowly beat several Democrats for the opportunity to challenge Lara in the race. He has unsuccessfully run for office on two previous occasions.
In June’s jungle primary, Lara failed to win several key endorsements, such as from newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times, which endorsed state Sen. Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), citing Lara’s ethics trouble (Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) dually endorsed).
Lara accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from insurance companies despite a pledge not to do so, and socialized with industry leaders as they had cases pending before his office, multiple media outlets have reported.
Levine just barely fell short to Howell
Rendon and others, such as the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times, endorsed state Sen. Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) in the June primary. But Levine fell short to Howell.