The race for the next Georgia Insurance Commissioner was too close to call Wednesday morning, according to local media outlets in the state.
Republican and former deputy insurance commissioner Jim Beck had a slight lead over Democrat and insurance agent Janice Laws in the state election to replace Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, who decided not to seek re-election this year, opening up the playing field for the state‚Äôs top insurance post for the first time since 2010.
As of 12:30 EST, the Georgia Secretary of State‚Äôs election results showed Beck with 50.5 percent of the vote to Laws 46.9 percent, with the difference in votes between the two being just under 140,000. Libertarian candidate Donnie Foster was trailing behind significantly with only 2.6 percent of the vote. Atlanta‚Äôs FOX 5 News listed the race between Beck and Laws as ‚Äútoo close to call.‚ÄĚ
The station also reported slow reporting of results Tuesday night due to voting issues in several counties. The state‚Äôs contentious governor‚Äôs race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams was also too close to call Wednesday.
Laws said on her Facebook page Wednesday morning that she was not conceding yet.
‚ÄúFriends, we‚Äôre still in the race. Standing until every vote is counted. Your vote matters. Stay tuned,‚ÄĚ Laws wrote on her official candidate Facebook page.
Beck, who announced his candidacy in Aug. 2017, has more than 30 years of experience working in the industry, including for an independent insurance agency, and serving for 12 years as a director for a Fortune 150 property and casualty insurance company.
During his public service, he served as Deputy Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner for the State of Georgia, He was most recently chief of staff for Hudgens.
According to his campaign website, Beck said his top priorities if elected would be to focus on Georgia health care solutions centered on a free market system. His other priorities would include defending against insurance fraud against seniors and veterans and protecting consumers from ‚Äúrunaway‚ÄĚ auto insurance rates.
In June, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Beck‚Äôs state work records had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury. Beck‚Äôs campaign released a statement to the AJC at the time saying Beck didn‚Äôt know what the investigation was about and that he was not in a position to comment on it. Last month, AJC.com reported that the U.S. Attorney‚Äôs Office has yet to release any information on the case.
Laws is a 16-year-veteran of the insurance industry and current owner of her own agency, J. Laws & Associates.
She is also an author and founder of Total Life Empowerment, where she mentors aspiring entrepreneurs and agents. As an insurance professional, Laws has been recognized as a leader and pace-setter in the industry by Liberty Mutual Insurance CO. and Nationwide Insurance, according to her bio on her campaign site.
Laws, who moved to the U.S. from Jamaica as a teenager, according to her campaign site, also lists addressing the cost of auto insurance to Georgia consumers as one of her top priorities. She said Senate Bill 276, which passed in 2008, allows proposed insurance rate increases to go unchallenged.
Laws noted advocating for caps on health insurance premium increases, lower surcharges for accident and claims on car insurance, and ensuring fair underwriting practices for home owners and industrial loans, were also among her top priorities.