Democrat Defeats Independent For California Insurance Czar

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – New vote totals show Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara has defeated Republican-turned-independent Steve Poizner to become the state’s next insurance commissioner. Vote counts updated since Election Day made Lara the winner Friday with nearly 4.9 million votes, or 51.6 percent. Lara will be California’s first openly gay statewide officeholder. Poizner would have been the first independent. Lara will head the Department of Insurance, which enforces insurance laws, licenses and regulates companies and investigates fraud. His win leaves just one statewide race too close to call. Assemblyman Tony Thurmond had a 74,000 vote lead over Los Angeles schools executive Marshall Tuck in the race to become the state’s top public education official. Thurmond had nearly 4.3 million votes, or 50.4 percent. Thurmond and Tuck are Democrats but the race is nonpartisan.

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