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Georgia PSC also attracts outside money

As the midterm elections loom, local races are tapping into the national political momentum and dollars.

Even the race for seats on the Public Service Commission is seeing campaign money coming from outside of Georgia, especially on the Democratic side.

“We are seeing that in the Stacey Abrams campaign, you are seeing it in congressional races all around the country, and this may also translate to the PSC race,” said Zachary Peskowitz assistant professor of political science at Emory University, referring to the Georgia gubernatorial race.

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Up for grabs this November are two Public Service Commission seats currently occupied by Chuck Eaton and Tricia Pridemore, both Republicans.

Businesswoman Lindy Miller, a Democrat, continues to receive financial support from out-of-state donors in her bid to unseat Eaton, who has served as commissioner for District 3 since 2006.

State records show that as of June 30, the Miller campaign had raised about $700,000 compared to Eaton’s $170,000 in contributions. Eaton had about $5,000 from out of state contributions. Libertarian candidate Ryan Graham has raised $5,000 to his campaign.

Miller received approximately $62,000 of her donations from individuals and companies from out of state. The rest of the donations comprise of small donations from individuals within the state.

“What Miller is signaling is that she is a serious candidate and that she is playing to win,” said Andra Gillespe, an Emory University political science professor. “And that she has the resources to be able to play to win.”

Eaton, however, said that although money is important in running campaigns, donations don’t necessarily translate to victory at the polls.

“If you look at past elections, it’s hard to go out there and buy the race,” said Eaton.

Eaton, who recently received endorsements from labor unions and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce said the race, will boil down to the major issues confronting the state’s energy consumers and those who understand the role of the PSC will likely decide who wins.

Libertarian candidate Ryan Graham agreed that voter interest in the PSC means more to the candidates than the money raised.

“Not many people know what the commission is, who is in the race and money doesn’t buy you that necessarily,” he said.

The PSC regulates the rates charged by investor-owned electric, natural gas and telecommunications companies operating in the state. The five sitting commissioners also approve the state’s energy plans, provide for the safety of natural gas pipelines and protect underground utility systems from damage.

Miller said the donations are a sign that the electorate is engaged and her message is resonating, boosting her optimism about a possible upset.

At the end of the day we raise the money so that we can talk to the millions of voters who are going to turn up for this race,” said Miller.

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