Under the Dome

Former county leader running for insurance commissioner

A third Republican joined the race for insurance commissioner last month as the election filing period wrapped up.

As a former Onslow County commissioner, Joe McLaughlin has a higher profile than the two other Republicans in the primary, neither of whom has held elected office.

McLaughlin ran for Congress against U.S. Rep. Walter Jones in 2008, and until recently he hosted a talk show on an Eastern North Carolina radio station.

In the primary, he’ll face Mike Causey, an adopt-a-highway coordinator who has run for the job four other times, and Ronald Pierce, an insurance company owner who faced fraud charges from the Department of Insurance. Charges against Pierce were dismissed because of a lack of evidence.

The winner of the March 15 primary will take on incumbent Democrat Wayne Goodwin in November. McLaughlin called Goodwin’s 2008 election a “political insider scheme” because Goodwin entered that race shortly after then-incumbent Jim Long dropped out unexpectedly.

Goodwin went on to defeat opponents in both the Democratic primary and the general election that year.

“Risk management is too important to be left to political schemers and insiders,” McLaughlin said. “I wanted to help bring a different perspective to the office.”

Goodwin touted his record in a recent news release announcing his bid for a third term: The lowest car insurance rates in the country, $10 million in annual support for fire and rescue departments, and 1,500 insurance-related arrests during his tenure.

McLaughlin owns a financial services and insurance business and says he’d balance the needs of insurance companies and customers. “I see the insurance commissioner as the trusted advisor for both parties,” he said.