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47 apply to be Florida's next state insurance commissioner


Top insurance regulators from the Tennessee, Illinois and Florida, and a former top official with the U.S. Treasury Department are among 47 people from around the nation vying to be Florida's next insurance commissioner.

After more than a decade as Florida's chief insurance regulator, Kevin McCarty resigned in January, sending Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on a nationwide search with hopes of filling the position before Hurricane Season begins in May. McCarty had been the state's insurance commissioner since 2003, when Florida changed the insurance commissioner post from an elected post to an appointed position. McCarty's resignation is effective on May 2.

Friday at midnight was the deadline to apply for the post. Some of the applicants that submitted their names for consideration by noon on Friday included:

-Belinda Miller, McCarty's current chief of staff
-Eric Johnson, the chief actuary for the Florida Department of Insurance
-Chlora Lindley-Myers, the Deputy Commissioner for Tennessee's Office of Commerce and Insurance
-Richard Ford, the chief examiner with the Alabama State Department of Insurance
-James Schacht, a former Chief Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance who three times served as the acting director of the agency
-Jeffrey Bragg, the retired executive director of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program for the U.S. Department of Treasury who also managed the National Flood Insurance Program under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Cabinet officials in January announced they expected to begin interviews in late March with hopes of filling the position in April.

Florida's elected Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said he has intentionally avoided looking at applications coming in. He said his top priority is making it clear there are no leading candidates to become the next commissioner. He said he is keeping an open mind going into the interview process.

"There are no favorites," Atwater said in an interview on Thursday.

To attract top candidates, the Cabinet voted to boost the pay to $200,000 a year, making it one of the highest paying insurance commissioner position in the nation. McCarty made $134,000 a year.

The state's insurance commissioner reports to the four-member Florida Cabinet.