Perry Names Rathgeber Insurance Commissioner

Updated May 27, 5:40 p.m.:

Julia Rathgeber, deputy chief of staff to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, was appointed to be the state's new insurance commissioner by Gov. Rick Perry Monday afternoon. She'll replace Eleanor Kitzman, who was appointed by the governor but never confirmed by the Senate.

Rathgeber worked at the state's General Land Office, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission and at that agency's successor, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation, but not until the next regular session, in 2015.

Updated May 24, 5 p.m.:

Texas Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman told agency staffers this week that "she would not be continuing as commissioner after the end of the session," an agency spokesman confirmed Friday.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Kitzman in 2011 to a term that ended in February. He didn't officially reappoint her, but asked senators if they would confirm her if he did. After they expressed serious reservations and made it clear that she would probably not win confirmation, Perry decided not to submit the nomination. 

Monday, the last day of the legislative session, will be her last day on the job.

Original story, May 16:

Eleanor Kitzman’s tenure as Texas insurance commissioner will probably end this month, a key senator said Thursday afternoon.

Failing to win the Senate’s blessing during the regular legislative session would force her out of that major regulatory post when the session ends May 27.

Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, said the session’s last meeting of the Nominations Committee, which he chairs, will be on Monday.

“I plan to have my last hearing on Monday — that’s the UT Board of Regents, as well as a whole list of non-appearing nominees,” Hegar said. “Being that I need to post this afternoon — that’s my plan — I do not expect to get any more nominees for any other positions right now. That includes the Department of Insurance, most likely.”

Kitzman’s current term ended his year, and she can serve until the end of the session unless she is reappointed. Gov. Rick Perry has not officially proffered her reappointment to the Senate, though he named her to the office in the summer of 2011. The nomination has been in trouble for months, but a last-minute effort raised the possibility that she could win Senate consent. Barring some last-minute changes of heart, Hegar said, she isn’t going to make it.

“Gauging the votes in the last couple of days, it does not appear that there is a majority on my committee or on the Senate floor for that confirmation,” Hegar said.

Kitzman did not respond to a request for comment.

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