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California voters have cast their primary ballot for the leader for the state agency that wields significant power over home, auto and other insurance policies purchased by millions of consumers.

Nine candidates are vying to be California insurance commissioner, a regulator with the authority to approve or reject rate increases and investigate fraud. The top two finishers in the June 7 primary will face off in the November general election.

Incumbent Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Los Angeles, is looking to hold on to his seat amid a fierce challenge from a Democratic opponent, San Rafael Assemblymember Marc Levine.

Lara has been under fire since 2019, when news media reported questionable campaign contributions from associates of Applied Underwriters, while Applied was under investigation by the CDI, and seeking approval of the sale of the company

While much of the attention in the race has been centered on jabs between Lara and Levine, seven other contenders are also running for the post.

Two of the lesser-known challengers are Democrats, Dr. Vinson Eugene Allen and paralegal Jasper Jackson. They are joined by two Republicans – businessman and former California Public Utilities Commission president Greg Conlon and cybersecurity equipment manufacturer Robert Howell – and two minor-party candidates: Veronika Fimbres, a nurse and Green Party member, and teacher Nathalie Hrizi from the Peace and Freedom Party.

Healthcare advocate Robert Molnar, who once worked for former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, is on the ballot as a “no party preference” candidate.

A day after the election, unofficial results have been published by the California Secretary of State.

Ricardo Lara has 37% of the vote. with Republican Robert Howell in second place with 17.8%. Levine is in third place with 16.8%, followed by Greg Conlon at 16.5%. The remaining candidates are under 5% of the vote each.

Howell “pledged to not take insurance company political donations.”  He personally owns and operates an electronics firm in the Silicon Valley, and boasts that he is not an insurance agent or politician, and is proud to be a “Regan Republican.”  He will likely proceed to the November election where he will challenge Ricardo Lara for the Insurance Commissioner position.

Troy Slaten, a newly appointed Workers’ Compensation Judge who works at the Van Nuys District Office of the WCAB, ran for a Los Angeles County Superior Court judicial position, competing with four other candidates.

Unofficial results show Abby Baron in the lead of that race with 29.73% of the vote, and Anna Slotky Reitano in second place with 24.64%. WCJ Slaten will not likely move to the November election as he has 11.27% of the vote.

He also unsuccessfully competed for a Los Angeles County Superior Court position in 2020. He was a former deputy district attorney and was supported by unions, firefighters and law enforcement during his campaigns.