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Published March 31 2012

Hamm endorsed for insurance commissioner

BISMARCK – If elected to another term, Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm said he pledges to focus on consumer protection, common-sense insurance regulation and competitive insurance markets.

Hamm received the Republican endorsement for the office during the party’s state convention Saturday.

Hamm said he’s delivered on his previous pledges to add more competition to the insurance market, bring transparency to the department and aggressively go after insurance fraud.

North Dakota has the second-lowest auto insurance premiums in the country and is closing in to become the lowest, he said. The department’s health insurance counseling program for senior citizens consistently ranks as one of the top programs in the country, he said.

North Dakota needs to continue to create an environment that encourages insurance companies to want to come to North Dakota to do business and stay in the state so there are competitive markets for all types of insurance, Hamm said.

“The last thing we want to do to North Dakota’s insurance market is overregulate it,” he said.

Hamm criticized federal health care reform and said it will have “devastating consequences” on the health care system “and on our individual freedom and liberty.”

“What we need is for this law to be replaced by true health care reform,” Hamm said. “Reform that focuses on cost containment and the elimination of waste in the system.”

Hamm, a former Cass County prosecutor, is seeking his second elected term to the office. He has served in the post since 2007, when former Gov. John Hoeven appointed him to finish the term of incumbent Republican Jim Poolman, who resigned.

Hamm will face Democrat Tom Potter of Grand Forks in the November election.

The insurance commissioner’s salary is $90,360.

Public service commission

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Randy Christmann of Hazen received the Republican endorsement for Public Service Commission.

Christmann defeated Rep. Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo, for the endorsement on an 847-668 vote. Christmann was three votes shy of the votes needed to win, but Thoreson moved unanimous approval of Christmann’s endorsement.

Christmann is a rancher who has served in the North Dakota Senate since 1994. Christmann, who represents the area of the state known as Coal Country, said he’s worked with many of the issues the Public Service Commission addresses.

Brad Crabtree, who ranches in Dickey County, received the Democratic-NPL endorsement. The candidates are vying for the seat held by Republican Tony Clark, who is not seeking re-election.

The Public Service Commission has varying degrees of authority over electric and gas utilities, telecommunications companies, power plant, transmission line and pipeline siting, railroads, grain elevators, auctioneers and auction clerks, weighing and measuring devices, pipeline safety and coal mine reclamation.

Commissioners serve six-year terms. The annual salary is $92,826.

State treasurer

State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt, who is seeking a third term in office, received the Republican endorsement Saturday.

Schmidt said she’s been committed to running an administration focused on modernizing the office and making it more transparent. She said she plans to continue that if elected to another term.

“North Dakotans want to know how and where their resources are being used, and I’ve always believed the people’s treasury is the people’s business,” she said.

As treasurer, she is a member of the State Investment Board, Teachers Fund for Retirement, University and School Lands Board, Tax Equalization and the State Historical Board.

Schmidt will face Demo-crat Ross Mushik of Mandan.

The state treasurer’s salary is $85,330.

State auditor

State Auditor Bob Peterson received the Republican endorsement for the office Saturday.

Peterson was first elected to the seat in 1996 and has served ever since. He said his vision has been to maintain integrity, professionalism, fairness and transparency in the office and for the staff to produce informative audits.

Peterson will face Rep. Scot Kelsh, D-Fargo, who received the Democratic-NPL endorsement for state auditor.

The auditor’s annual salary is $90,360.

DPI

After running behind schedule, the Republican Party decided to postpone the superintendent of public instruction race until today.

Mandan School Board President Kirsten Baesler and Rep. David Monson, R-Osnabrock, are seeking Republican support for the nonpartisan office.


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Teri Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.