If you’re one of the 18 to 29-year-olds who made up 19 percent of voters this year (a higher percentage youth vote than in 2008! Yay!), you are mostly likely unfamiliar with an annoying 1970s Chiffon Margarine TV commercial that goes “It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature!” But whether you’re 18 or 85, that universal “don’t fool with me” sentiment seems to have marked a number of election contests this year, even besides the obvious (i.e., women, gays and pot!)
Let’s start with the California’s insurance industry. Don’t mess with the 1988 insurance reform initiative, Proposition 103, and the consumer group behind it, Consumer Watchdog. Billionaire Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph just wasted $17 million on his Proposition 33, which would have repealed Prop. 103’s provision preventing insurance companies from charging more to drivers who had a lapse in insurance coverage. This is about what Joseph spent almost exactly two years ago on basically the same ballot measure. Yet despite being outspent by Joseph 70 to 1 (the Consumer Watchdog coalition had only about $275,000), Prop 33 went down! Next up for Consumer Watchdog: the health insurance industry!
Speaking of the insurance industry, seems like they’re a little nervous that their influence-peddling in Congress may be in need of some new targets. Reports the National Underwriter’s website,
Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., was defeated for re-election, a victim of redistricting. She headed the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity of the House Financial Services Committee, and was expected to be a big player on insurance issues. She shepherded the [National Flood Insurance Program] bill through its tortuous, five-year path to a long-term extension. The bill was finally enacted in July. It is unclear who will succeed her as chair of the insurance subcommittee. Biggert was also expected to be a key player on regulatory issues as well as in gaining passage of A Terrorism Risk Insurance Act extension. Joel Wood, senior vice president of congressional affairs of the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, called Biggert's defeat, “extremely disappointing to the insurance industry.”
And speaking of elections, here are a few other interesting outcomes:
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce finally got their wish in West Virginia, ousting consumer-friendly AG Darrell McGraw who had held office for 20 years, “perhaps marking the start of major changes to West Virginia consumer protection litigation… [McGraw] has won the state more than $2 billion in consumer protection lawsuit settlements against pharmaceutical, coal and tobacco companies and unscrupulous lenders, according to his office.”
- They also got supermajorities in states like Indiana, Wyoming and Tennessee (both Houses), North Carolina (one House plus Governor) and won back majorities in states like Wisconsin. (See more here and here.) But the good news is that state houses flipped the other way in Colorado, New York, Maine, Minnesota, and Oregon (where there had been a tie), with apparent supermajorities in California and Illinois! And that awful New Hampshire Speaker who pushed through that horrendous anti-patient medical malpractice bill (which we covered here) is no longer speaker since the Democrats took over! Let’s hope a repeal is on the way!
As far as Supreme Court races, here’s some of what we know:
- Three Florida Supreme Court justices retained their seats in retention votes despite organized campaigns by conservative organizations to oust them.
- Iowa retained Justice David Wiggins, the Supreme Court Justice who had ruled on same-sex marriage with a 54% retention rate. (This is in counter to two years ago when 3 of Wiggins’ colleagues were thrown out by voters.)
- In North Carolina, incumbent Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby won over appellate Judge Sam “Jimmy” Ervin IV thanks to an unprecedented and disturbing amount of outside money from business interests and conservative groups.
- In Mississippi, attorney Josiah Dennis Coleman won over pro-consumer attorney Richard Phillips due to nasty outside money: "The out-of-state special interest group Law Enforcement Alliance of America ran advertising in north Mississippi blasting Phillips as a trial lawyer who had filed a lot of lawsuits against business. …Phillips said the Virginia-based LEAA was trying to buy a seat on the court. He said such groups can put out negative ads that distort the truth without disclosing who are the individuals paying for the ads."
It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, or with the truth.