Latvala and other lawmakers push favorites for insurance post
As Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet prepare to resume the search for a new insurance commissioner Tuesday, a few legislators are weighing in with their own endorsements of candidates to be Kevin McCarty's successor.
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, sent Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater a glowing recommendation for Ray Blacklidge, a friend and constituent in Pinellas Park who has an extensive background in various forms of insurance. Blacklidge was added to the list of candidates last week by Atwater.
In a letter, Latvala describes Blacklidge as a "national expert on no fault automobile insurance" with more than 30 years of executive experience in the property and casualty insurance industry. Blacklidge, 55, is an executive of two write-your-own insurance carriers, American Traditions Insurance Company and Modern USA Insurance Company, and Latvala said his "remarkable experience and commitment to the citizens of our state" makes him an excellent candidate.
Latvala reminded Atwater of his role as a Senate sponsor of the 2002 legislation that created the Office of Insurance Regulation, which includes a requirement that Atwater and Scott must agree on a choice for the job. Some background on that political battle can be found here.
Two South Florida legislators wrote separate letters of recommendation for another candidate who has not been short-listed and will not be interviewed Tuesday. Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and Rep. Hazelle Rogers, D-Lauderdale Lakes, both urged Atwater to support Dolce Suarez-Resnick of Miramar for the insurance post. She was an appointee of former CFO Alex Sink, a Democrat, to the state Financial Literacy Council.