NU Online News Service, July 2, 11:22 a.m.EDT

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A longtime Allstate agent and veteran of the Florida House ofRepresentatives has announced his candidacy for Florida chieffinancial officer in a race likely to see some focus on the state'sfractured insurance market.

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Rep. Pat Patterson, a five-term legislator, who is chairman ofthe House Insurance, Business, and Financial Affairs PolicyCouncil, will be running in the Republican primary against StateSenate President Jeff Atwater, announced in May.

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So far, no Democrat has announced his or her intention to runfor the CFO post. The deadline for all candidates to file anintention to run is not until May of 2010.

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Democrat Alex Sink is leaving the CFO spot to run for governor,a position falling vacant with Republican Gov. Charlie Crist'sdecision to campaign for the U.S. Senate rather than seekreelection.

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Mr. Patterson, who announced yesterday in his hometown of DeLandin Central Florida, in an interview, did not mention insurance as afocus of his campaign, but in an answer to a question said"somebody will probably try to make it an issue" because he worksin that sector.

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The representative, who said in August he will become anindependent agent after 31 years with Allstate, said he thought ifSen. Atwater were to get the nomination, "banking would be anissue" because of his opponent's background as chief executiveofficer, chairman and president of Barnett Bank of Broward Countyfrom 1996-1998.

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Mr. Atwater has already posted an advertisement on the Internetmentioning "heartbreaking stories" of hurricane victims "dropped bytheir insurers after many years of no claims," citing his work fora "Truth in Coverage" law.

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The senator says there is much more that needs doing. Hismessages express intentions to:

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o "Hold BIG INSURERS accountable to policyholders."

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o "Standardize risk models so customers are notovercharged."

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o "Force insurers to pass cost savings to customers."

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o "Prosecute insurers who skirt the law and use loopholes to padcorporate profits at the expense of policyholders."

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Mr. Patterson, facing a term limit, said he is running becausepeople who approached him to run "said they would like analternative to Sen. Atwater," he related.

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While Mr. Atwater may be higher profile as Senate president, Mr.Patterson said, "he doesn't carry a hammer," noting that Ms. Sink,who did not previously hold elective office had successfully runagainst the previous Senate president Tom Lee.

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Mr. Patterson said while working in insurance as an agent hisresponsibility has been "to the consumer, my client," and much ofthe work of the Department of Financial Services, which the CFOheads, involves protecting the consumer and consumer education.

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In addition to a focus on consumer protection, he said his focusin the job would also be on protecting state bank accounts.

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Mr. Patterson is a Navy veteran and former public school teacherwhose background also includes two terms on the Volusia CountyCouncil.

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