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Posted On: Oct. 18, 1998 12:00 AM CST

Voters will elect insurance commissioners in five states during November balloting: California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Incumbents are favored to win all races for new four-year terms.

However, Florida Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson, who also serves as state treasurer, may have the narrowest lead, with more than two weeks to go. The Democratic incumbent is running against Tim Ireland, a Republican.

Mr. Nelson's post is also being targeted for change as a result of a proposed revision of the governor's Cabinet. An amendment on the November ballot proposes to merge the state Cabinet-level posts of treasurer and comptroller into a single chief financial officer, according to the amendment proposed by the governor's Constitutional Revision Commission. The proposed CFO is expected to also assume the duties of insurance commissioner.

If voters approve it, the amendment would affect primary elections in 2002, though it's actual effective date would be Jan. 7, 2003.

Elsewhere, the only other Democratic incumbent running is Kansas' Kathleen Sebelius, who is facing Republican Bryan Riley.

In contests with Republican incumbents, California's Chuck Quackenbush is vying with Democrat Diane Martinez and four fringe-party candidates. In Georgia, John Oxendine is vying with Democrat Henrietta Canty and a Libertarian Party candidate. Also, Oklahoma's John P. Crawford is again facing Democrat Carroll Fisher, his 1994 opponent.

Voters living in the Second U.S. Congressional District surrounding Madison, Wis., will decide whether former Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Josephine Musser, a Republican, should replace retiring Scott Klug, also a Republican, in Congress. She is a former president of the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners. Ms. Musser's opponent for the House seat is Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat.