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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Ralph Hudgens draws competition on 2014 ballot

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson

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Chuck Efstration

A Democrat has announced a race for Georgia’s insurance commissioner, a week after incumbent Ralph Hudgens got White House attention for comments about the Affordable Care Act.

Elizabeth “Liz” Johnson, said Hudgens is “pursuing a misguided personal agenda rather than working to serve Georgia citizens,” as she announced her 2014 race.

“His narrow policies have hurt Georgia’s reputation nationally, and have hurt economic development at a time when Georgians are struggling to pay their bills. Some hospitals have been forced to close their doors, and others are on the verge of closing,” Johnson, a 40-year insurance industry veteran, said. “Our citizens deserve better insurance protection than this. We must have a leader in this office.”

Last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney mentioned Hudgen’s controversial comments caught on tape.

“Just yesterday we saw a particularly egregious example of Republicans who, to this day, say they want to repeal the law and are trying to sabotage or undermine it and the protections provided by the Affordable Care Act,” Carney said. “’It’s your fault,’ he said. So it’s your fault if you have asthma or cancer or some other pre-existing condition,” he added. “That kind of language is obviously wrong.”

But Hudges’ spokesman Glenn Allen said the insurance commissioners’ words were taken out of context.

“Commissioner Hudgens is a prostate cancer survivor himself and does not believe, nor was he suggesting, that people with pre-existing conditions are at fault for their illnesses,” Allen said. “The commissioner was trying to explain how pre-existing conditions can impact premiums and, in doing so, made an analogy that the Democratic Party chose to misconstrue for political purposes.”

Efstration swearing oath

Gwinnett’s newest legislator will be sworn into office Friday.

Chuck Efstration, a 30-year-old attorney, won a runoff earlier this month for the House District 104 seat centered in Dacula.

With the General Assembly set to convene next month, a swearing-in ceremony has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday in the House chamber of the Georgia State Capitol.

Judge Billy Ray, a former Gwinnett senator who now sits on the Georgia Court of Appeals, will give the oath of office.

“Everyone is invited to attend the ceremony on Friday,” Efstration said. “I look forward to taking the oath of office and immediately beginning work to foster private sector job growth and improve the economy.”

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.