Greg Conlon is a businessman and Republican politician who made two unsuccessful bids to become the California Insurance Commissioner. Conlon ran in the elections for Insurance Commissioner in 2018 and 2022, failing to advance past the primary stage in 2022 and losing in the general election in 2018. Though he brought private sector experience to his campaigns, Conlon was unable to overcome factors like low name recognition. His back-to-back losses underscore the challenges for Republican candidates running statewide in Democrat-dominated California.
2018 Run for California Insurance Commissioner
In the June 2018 nonpartisan primary election, Conlon faced off against four other candidates looking to advance to the general election. His main opponents were Democrats Fiona Ma and Vivek Viswanathan. When the votes were counted, Conlon placed second with 20.8% of the vote, while Ma finished first with 44.5%.
By finishing in the top two places in the primary, Conlon and Ma won spots on the November general election ballot. However, the Republican proved to be no match for the well-known Democrat in the deep blue state. Ma defeated Conlon decisively, winning 64.1% of the vote compared to his 35.9%.
2022 Run for California Insurance Commissioner
Conlon launched another campaign for Insurance Commissioner in 2022, entering a crowded nonpartisan primary field. He faced stiff competition from other Republicans like Robert Howell and Marc Levine. When primary voters cast their ballots in June, Conlon ended up in fourth place with just 16.2% of the vote. The second place finisher, Howell, moved on to the general election with 18.1%.
Conlon’s defeat in the primary meant his campaign came to an early end. Howell went on to lose handily in the November general election to incumbent Democratic Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who took 59.9% of the vote.
A native Californian, Greg Conlon grew up in Pasadena and later raised his family in Atherton. He studied business administration in college and earned an MBA from USC. Conlon worked as a CPA and eventually became a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He served as president of several corporations.
Prior to running for statewide office, Conlon gained political experience at the local level. He was elected to the Atherton City Council in 1998 and became mayor of the town in 2002. Conlon also served as a board member for the San Mateo County Transit District.
Conlon’s Campaigns and Platform
In his first campaign for Insurance Commissioner, Conlon emphasized his private sector background as preparation for leading the department that regulates insurance companies. He highlighted plans to reduce bureaucracy and streamline operations. Conlon also criticized the approved Ratepayer Protection Act, calling it an example of unnecessary government intervention.
Conlon’s second campaign for Insurance Commissioner struck similar themes as 2018. He again played up his business experience and called for tax cuts and reduced regulations. However, Conlon also focused more on insurance issues like high rates. He proposed initiatives like a smart phone app to provide consumers with real-time rate comparisons.
Assessments of Conlon as a Candidate
As an accountant and corporate executive, Conlon brought private sector experience to his bids for Insurance Commissioner. This appealed to conservative voters. His two terms as mayor of Atherton gave him some degree of political exposure as well.
Conlon’s limited name ID proved to be a major liability in running statewide in California. He failed to gain traction against opponents with higher profiles and better fundraising networks. As a Republican, he faced tough partisan headwinds.
The Office of California Insurance Commissioner
The California Insurance Commissioner heads a department tasked with regulating insurance companies and protecting consumers. Key duties include approving insurance rates, monitoring insurer solvency, enforcing insurance laws, and educating the public.
Overseeing the nation’s largest insurance market gives the Commissioner substantial influence. The office impacts the rates paid by California residents and businesses. It also shapes the practices of insurers nationwide.
Greg Conlon deserves credit for jumping into the electoral arena and offering his business background as a candidate for California Insurance Commissioner. However, in his two attempts, Conlon failed to garner sufficient name recognition or fundraising to be a major factor. His difficulties highlight the ongoing challenges for Republicans competing in Democrat-dominated California, even in down ballot statewide races. Conlon seems unlikely to mount another campaign for Insurance Commissioner, but he will continue advocating for conservative economic policies.
- How many times did Greg Conlon run for California Insurance Commissioner?
Greg Conlon ran for California Insurance Commissioner twice, in 2018 and 2022.
- What years did Conlon run to be Insurance Commissioner?
Conlon ran in the elections for California Insurance Commissioner in 2018 and 2022.
- Who defeated Conlon in the 2022 Republican primary?
In 2022, Conlon lost in the Republican primary for Insurance Commissioner to Robert Howell.
- What Democrat beat Conlon in the 2018 general election?
Democrat Fiona Ma defeated Conlon in the 2018 general election for California Insurance Commissioner.
- What experience did Conlon highlight in his campaigns?
Conlon emphasized his private sector background as a businessman and accountant during his campaigns for Insurance Commissioner.