RJC in Santa Monica–Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner

At the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Summer Bash in Santa Monica, I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.


Mr. Poizner was a speaker at last year’s bash as well, where he was funny and self-deprecating. He pointed out that if one really want to party, invite an insurance commissioner to speak. Yet Steve Poizner is very lively. He is also a black belt in karate, although meetings with insurance executives usually does not require that he break out his moves.

This year his speech was more serious and intense. He is running for Governor of California, and I was surprised that he had the evening to himself. His main opponent, eBay CEO Meg Whitman, did not attend. She was invited, and while I have met her before and found her likable, her absence was more than a bit puzzling. Tom Campbell, who is running a dark horse campaign, also did not attend.

With the field cleared for the evening, Commissioner Poizner lit up the crowd.

“I ran a company for twenty years. I worked while the state went off a cliff. I then decided to be part of the solution, so I went into public service.”

“My passion is education. I offered to teach for free in the Bay Area. I was not looking to be compensated. I just wanted to help. The people in the school system looked at me like I was crazy.”

“One woman asked me what qualified me to be a teacher. I told her that I got my MBA at Stanford Business School, I worked in the White House, had a national security clearance, worked on counter-terrorism measures for the National Security Council during the 9/11 crisis, and ran my own company for twenty years. She replied that ‘nothing you have told me qualifies you to be in the classroom.’”

“I called twelve principals, and only one of them called back.”

“I finally ended up teaching in Silicon Valley at Mount Pleasant High School. The school had a leaky roof.”

“Mount Pleasant High School was micromanaged by Sacramento, which tried to apply a one size fits all approach to all 5000 California schools.”

“I started the California Charter School movement.”

“Charter schools don’t have to obey the 2000 page education code.”

“A Poizner administration means that teachers that succeed will get a raise, and those that don’t succeed, we will get rid of.”
“As Insurance Commissioner, I run a 160 billion dollar budget. That is 10% of the California economy.”

“On so many occasions, I asked people in my department, ‘Why are we doing this?’ They would respond, ‘Because we have been doing it this way for fifty years.’ I asked, ‘Does it help anyone?’ They say, ‘no.’ So then I say ‘Then we should stop doing it.’”

“I have 300 police officers in my department. They have arrested over 2000 people for insurance fraud.”

“I began with 1300 people. I reduced our size to 1100 people. I cut 15% of the work force. I am the only person in California to have cut anything.”

“We did not even have a strategic plan until I arrived in this office.”

“We are using our crime fighting division to choke off money that can go to terrorist groups and countries that are funding them.”

“As Insurance Commissioner, I am now taking two key actions. First, I am ordering all California insurance companies to divest from Iran. Second, all insurance companies will be reporting to me exactly what dollars are invested in Iran. This will happen indefinitely. Your hard earned premium dollars will not go to Iran.”

Commissioner Poizner received a thunderous ovation when he was finished.

So far I have not made an endorsement in the Republican primary for Governor of California. As I said earlier, Tom Campbel seems like a real long shot. Ms. Whitman may be the fornt-runner. She is racking up endorsements at a rapid clip, and her emails have been a steady barrage.

However, I would not count out Steve Poizner. Far from it. He is not the sexy choice. Insurance Commissioners, as even he would admit, do not always make people swoon. Yet this is not your father’s Insurance Commissioner.

Steve Poizner is very impressive, and the Republican Jewish Coalition Summer Bash attendees thoroughly benefited from his appearance.


One Response to “RJC in Santa Monica–Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner”

  1. Just what California needs… a Silicon Valley MBA! Ya’ know what? Why don’t you guys just get yourselves another foreign action hero? Maybe Jean Claude Van Damme…

    Good luck with that!


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