Republican incumbent Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr., narrowly secured re-election in the runoff race to represent District 4 in the Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC). McDonald secured over 50 percent of the vote totals, while his Democratic opponent, Daniel Blackman, trailed McDonald by 1 point.
The win marked McDonald’s fourth time being elected to the position. He has served GPSC for 16 years.
Blackman challenged McDonald in 2014 as well. During the 2020 election, he campaigned on an environmental activism platform. He emphasized his background as an energy policy advisor for President Barack Obama and a litany of other organizations. Blackman proposed fighting climate change, and stated he’d do more to implement renewable energies such as solar power, rather than coal. Blackman also criticized the GPSC for lifting the COVID-19 moratorium on electric service disconnections, and for not stopping the $25 billion Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion.
McDonald’s campaign addressed solar power as well, pointing out that he has advocated for it consistently. He defended Plant Vogtle, arguing that it provides a clean energy source with lasting consumer benefits. It is the only new nuclear energy plant in the country; its expansion is years past schedule and totaled billions over budget. McDonald also levied his handiwork in maintaining Georgia’s energy provision at a low cost. The state does have energy costs below the national average, and it is the 9th-highest consumer of electricity nationwide.
Just prior to his win, with over 99 percent of the vote tallied, McDonald promised that he’d maintain his independent stance.
According to Georgia’s majority voting rules, McDonald and Blackman were ushered into a runoff election after neither candidate obtained a 50 percent-plus-one-vote majority in November’s three-way election. McDonald obtained one-tenth under a 50 percent margin. McDonald and Blackman’s election was scheduled to take place on December 1st. However, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger rescheduled the runoff election to occur on the day of the Senate runoff elections, citing ongoing general election litigation, recounts, and the burdens of holding multiple elections borne onto election workers.
The Public Service Commissioner for District 4 oversees over three dozen counties in the state. The GPSC is a five-member panel that decides what constitutes “fair and reasonable rates” for their constituents to pay for utilities.
The Georgia Star News reached out to McDonald for comment on his win and next steps – he didn’t respond by press time.
McDonald will serve District 4 for another six years.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Georgia Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.