On their third attempt at reaching a consensus, Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet agreed Friday to promote insurance regulator David Altmaier to the post of state Insurance Commissioner — while keeping his outgoing boss, Kevin McCarty, on board for an additional 60 days.
Altmaier’s selection came after another deadlock ensued between Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Scott over the selection. Atwater on Friday again recommended Delray Beach Republican Rep. Bill Hager, a former Iowa insurance commissioner, for the post but, as in two earlier meetings, Hager was a no-sale with Scott.
Scott’s own favorite applicant, Tampa-area Jeffrey Bragg, a retired insurance industry executive, was already rejected by Atwater. The governor and chief financial officer, who oversees the insurance commissioner’s office, must agree on a selection, under state law
Friday’s meeting was as awkward as the earlier attempts to settle on a candidate.
After Hager failed, Atwater’s fallback candidate, Deputy Commissioner Belinda Miller, also didn’t win Scott’s OK. So Atwater turned to Altmaier, who has worked at the Office of Insurance Regulation since 2008 and was among three applicants interviewed Friday by Scott and the Cabinet.
Altmaier impressed the governor and Cabinet — with all but Atwater joining Friday’s meeting by conference call — with his grasp of insurance markets,his ability to respond to a decision Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court seen as threatening to the workers’ compensation system, and his focus on the consumer.
“This guy is impressive,” Atwater said.
Altmaier will get a $165,000 annual salary. McCarty, the state’s insurance commissioner since 2003, was set to step down May 2, but earlier agreed to stay on to assist with the transition as hurricane season nears.
Scott and the Cabinet agreed to that offer Friday, but made the point that Altmaier is in command.