Consumer advocate seeks to become insurance commissioner

A leading consumer health care advocate has jumped into the race to succeed Ralph Hudgens as Georgia’s insurance commissioner.

Cindy Zeldin, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, announced Tuesday that she plans to run for the commissioner position. Her announcement came a day after Hudgens said he would not seek re-election. But Zeldin, 41, said she had been planning to run even if Hudgens stayed in the race.

Ralph Hudgens

She is stepping down as the leader of Georgians for a Healthy Future, an advocacy group that has strongly supported the Affordable Care Act since its enactment.

Zeldin will run as a Democrat. Hudgens is a Republican, and the GOP has held the commissioner’s office since the mid-1990s.

Hudgens’ decision to retire has opened up the field for the office.

The race has already attracted Jay Florence, deputy insurance commissioner, who filed his paperwork Monday. Jim Beck, a veteran insurance industry official, also is expected to run. The AJC reported that health care provider Shane Mobley and Democrat Tomeka Kimbrough, an insurance agent, have also joined the race.

The campaign for insurance commissioner has typically been a back-burner event, but with health care being a leading issue nationally – with the potential repeal of the ACA in Congress – the race may take on an unusually high profile.

Zeldin said that if she wins, she will work to make the insurance department more consumer-oriented. “I think we need a change,’’ she said. “This is an office that impacts people’s lives every day. People have challenges, burdens and questions about insurance.”


She said a major focus in the continual premium increases in health insurance and in auto coverage. “Georgia has had some of the highest car insurance rate increases in the nation,” she said.

Her goal, she said, is “making sure insurance is affordable, transparent and fair for consumers.”