BATON ROUGE, La. (KPEL News) – One of the longest-serving members in Louisiana government has announced he will not be running for re-election this year.
Jim Donelon, who is finishing up his fourth term as the state’s Insurance Commissioner, made the surprise announcement on Tuesday, ending more than 40 years in Louisiana government. He has been Insurance Commissioner since 2006. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Commissioner under J. Robert Wooley until Wooley left the job and Donelon took over.
He then won a special election to secure that job and has held it under three governors – Kathleen Blanco, Bobby Jindal, and John Bel Edwards.
Before serving in the Department of Insurance, Donelon served in the Louisiana House of Representatives, starting in January 1982.
In his announcement, Donelon said he wished to spend time with his family and out of the public life.
According to LaPolitics publisher Jeremy Alford, there are a few names leaning toward running.
Tim Temple announced in October that he would be running for the job. He also ran against Donelon in 2019.
Former state senator Ryan Gatti, a lawyer from the Bossier area, is also a possible candidate, having expressed interest in the job. But, so far, he has not announced it officially.
The final name being talked about is Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Advocacy Ron Henderson. He was appointed to that position by Donelon, but he has been with the Department of Insurance since working there as a student in 1998 before being officially hired in 2001.
Donelon’s retirement comes amid an insurance crisis in the state, in which auto and home insurance have spiked in recent years. There have been attempts at reform, including a recent special session that established a program to offer money to home insurance companies to come back to Louisiana.
But frequent hurricane seasons have dealt a lot of damage to south Louisiana, creating a crisis in a lack of options and higher premiums. Donelon recently also signed on to allowing Louisiana Citizens, the state’s insurer of last resort, to increase its rates.
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