Crossing party lines, Speir endorses Powell in PSC race

Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008 1:34 PM
Last updated Friday, Oct. 10, 2008 12:53 PM
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ATLANTA -- Democratic Public Service Commission candidate Jim Powell today picked up an endorsement from the Republican commissioner sitting in the seat he seeks in November.

Republican Commissioner Angela Speir, who is not running for re-election to the fourth district seat, said she’s backing Powell over GOP candidate Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, a former PSC commissioner, because Powell will be a voice for consumers who isn’t beholden to the utilities the commission regulates.

Consumers will need a voice on the commission since state budget cuts have scrapped the Consumer’s Utility Counsel, which used to go to bat for consumers in utility rate cases, and a multibillion decision on how much consumers will pay to expand a nuclear plant near Waynesboro will soon be before commissioners, Speir said.

“That decision alone could be worth several billion dollars,” said Speir.

McDonald rejected the notion he is beholden to utility companies. Their employees have given to his campaign, which is legal. He noted Speir has taken contributions from manufacturers with an interest in rate cases before the commission.

“I’m not beholden to anybody,” McDonald said, adding he’s received endorsements from Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and house Speaker Glenn Richardson.

Whether Powell will be on the November ballot is a question pending before the Georgia Supreme Court.

Secretary of State Karen Handel disqualified Powell on grounds he did not live in the fourth district, which spans 20 northern Georgia counties, and after several appeals the case is now before the state’s highest court.

If Powell, who received 85 percent of the vote in the July primary, loses the case, Bob Indech will be the Democratic candidate. Libertarian Brandon Givens will also be on the November ballot.

Speir said the issue of Powell’s residency was not a factor in her endorsement.


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