Capitol Alert

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones to run for attorney general

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones cruised to re-election last year.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones cruised to re-election last year.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who last year mounted an unsuccessful initiative campaign to assume more control over health insurance rates, said Thursday that he plans to run for attorney general in 2018.

Jones, a Sacramento Democrat, begins his campaign for another statewide office with $2.6 million in campaign funds on hand and the support of many liberal party activists.

“I have dedicated my life and my legal training to protecting California families,” he said in a statement. “I am ready and well prepared to take on this challenge.”

It is unclear whether Jones will challenge for an open seat or be forced to campaign against a sitting incumbent, presumably from his own party. Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, is the favorite to claim the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer in 2016. If Harris wins, Gov. Jerry Brown would appoint someone to serve out the remaining two years of her term.

Among those being mentioned for the appointment are Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and former Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, all Democrats.

I have dedicated my life and my legal training to protecting California families.

Dave Jones, California Insurance Commissioner

Democrats with campaign accounts to run for attorney general in 2018 include former senators Ellen Corbett and Lou Correa and ex-Assemblyman Dario Frommer. On the Republican side, San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos has said he is running and Assemblyman Don Wagner has an open account for 2018.

Jones is the second statewide officeholder to announce his plans. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this year that he plans to run for governor in 2018.

Despite cruising to re-election last year, Jones had a decidedly more difficult time in his campaign against the state’s most powerful health insurance companies, many of which he’s fought over the years on rates and other issues. The measure he championed, Proposition 45, would have given elected insurance commissioners the authority to deny health insurance rate increases the department deemed excessive.

Despite receiving the endorsement of the California Democratic Party, Jones’ side was badly outspent and the measure lost by nearly 20 percentage points.

Jones, 53, previously served in the state Assembly and on the Sacramento City Council. Before that, he was special assistant and counsel to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, and worked as a legal aid lawyer. Jones and his wife, Kim Flores, and their two children live in the Curtis Park neighborhood of Sacramento.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago