From sliced cheese to insurance-commissioner candidate

A Mormon, former wrestler and self-described “walking genius,” who had a
hand in the development of individually wrapped sliced cheese and “pourable”
salad dressings, won 631,000 votes in last week’s primary elections. Not
only that, this unfunded and unknown candidate has now pledged to raise as
much as $1 million for the fall general-election campaign–for his one-time


The candidate is John Kraft, an heir to the Kraft Foods empire, who shunned
both political contributions and endorsements and still managed to swipe the
support of 30 percent of Democratic voters from Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.

All told, Kraft’s bid for insurance commissioner garnered 200,000 more votes
than Sen. Liz Figueroa, who lost a three-way primary for lieutenant
governor, and more votes than either former Assemblyman Tony Strickland or
Sen. Abel Maldonado, the two leading Republican candidates for state

Aided by the favorable ballot title “Insurance Healthcare Consultant,” Kraft
says he is pleased with his showing. He says he ran for the post to
highlight what he sees as the shortcomings of the current health-care system
and to spur Bustamante to act on those issues.

“I am 65, it’s time to do something,” Kraft, a long-time Democratic
activist, said this week. “So I stood up and said here’s where insurance
should be going.”

His ballot statement–the shortest of any Democrat running statewide–read
that “a vote for John Kraft is a vote for lower insurance rates and for
better and affordable healthcare coverage.”

Armed with that statement, an admittedly “amateurish” Web page, and his job
title, Kraft won 631,000 votes. Republicans say the strong showing is a sign
of dissatisfaction with Bustamante within his own party.

“The people were voting against Bustamante,” said Wayne Johnson, a GOP
strategist for Steve Poizner, the Republican nominee who will face
Bustamante in the fall. “What you have got is two things operating, those
people who didn’t like Bustamante because of his shenanigans

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