Wayne Goodwin, a smart, conscientious, affable attorney who served in the North Carolina General Assembly and joined the Department of Insurance in 2005 before election as commissioner in 2008, was doubtless as surprised as anyone when he was defeated on Election Day for his try at a third term. Mike Causey, a retired insurance agent, beat Goodwin apparently on the Republican coattails of Donald Trump. But all the reasons likely will never be known. Sometimes, as the veteran pols say, you just lose.
Certainly Goodwin’s own performance in office was exemplary. In two terms, he had made protecting consumers a priority, and he fulfilled that promise. A commissioner — who’s also the state’s fire marshall — has to safeguard both making the state a place where insurance companies want to do business and making sure that consumers’ interests are protected first and foremost. That creates a constant tension with the industry. But Goodwin, a devoted student of detail, managed to make North Carolina a state where business could be done and customers could feel secure.
He was also dedicated to the fire marshall’s job, no mean feat. Goodwin invested a lot of time and energy in travel, in getting to know all of the local officials with whom he dealt, and a good many of the consumers he served. His office was known for its openness in terms of debates over rates, for example, and also for its responsiveness to consumers. That demonstrated an understanding of what it means to be a public servant, as an individual or an office.
Goodwin likely isn’t done in public life. That would be a very good thing.