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Ricardo Lara claims victory as California’s first openly gay official elected to statewide office

Ricardo Lara

Three days after the Associated Press called the race for him as State Insurance Commissioner, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara claimed victory. Photo: Office of Ricardo Lara.

Three days after the Associated Press called the race for him as State Insurance Commissioner, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara claimed victory.

Lara’s opponent, Republican-turned-independent Steve Poizner, also conceded the race Monday.

Lara’s victory is historic because he is California’s first openly gay statewide officeholder.

“I am grateful for the support of California voters who deserve a strong consumer advocate,” Lara said in a statement Monday. “Helping communities recover from wildfires while preparing for the threat of climate change will be my first job as Insurance Commissioner. As communities are rocked by devastating wildfires, Californians need a healthy, honest insurance market that allows them to quickly rebuild their lives and protects against future disasters.”

Lara received 52 percent with more than 5.7 million votes compared to Poizner’s 48 percent with 5.2 million votes, according to totals released by the Secretary of State’s office.

Lara also made history in 2012 when he became the first openly gay person of color elected to the California Senate.

As California Insurance Commissioner, Lara will be responsible for an agency, the California Insurance Department, with far reaching power. The department enforces insurance laws and licenses, regulates companies, and investigates fraud.

Lara will replace Commissioner Dave Jones, who is termed out of office, in January.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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