Georgia Democrat appears headed for runoff with GOP incumbent on PSC

Democratic and Republican Party watchers (background) observe as members of the adjudication review panel examine scanned ballots at Gwinnett County Election headquarters in Lawrenceville on Friday. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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Democratic and Republican Party watchers (background) observe as members of the adjudication review panel examine scanned ballots at Gwinnett County Election headquarters in Lawrenceville on Friday. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Public Service Commission oversees Georgia Power, other utilities

A Georgia Democrat appears to have barely made it into a statewide runoff with a long-time Republican incumbent on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

On Monday afternoon, the GOP’s Lauren “Bubba” McDonald was trending less than 0.1% below the 50% he needed to avoid a Dec. 1 runoff with Daniel Blackman, who is attempting to become the first Georgia Democrat elected to statewide office in years. Libertarian Nathan Wilson received about 3% of the vote, just enough to force the District 4 race into a runoff.

In the only other Georgia PSC contest this year, incumbent Republican Jason Shaw was a fraction of a percent over 50% to potentially remain in the PSC’s District 1 seat, according to tallies reported by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office as of Monday afternoon. Some votes were still being counted.

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The five-member PSC regulates some utility services and sets rates for Georgia Power and Atlanta Gas Light. It will decide how much of the billions of dollars in cost overruns on Georgia Power’s nuclear expansion of Plant Vogtle will be put into customers' electric bills.

Shaw had been challenged by Democrat Robert Bryant and Libertarian Elizabeth Melton. Bryant, who came in second to Shaw, conceded the District 1 race on Twitter, telling supporters he congratulated Shaw, “and I ask that we all support him.”

Shaw said Bryant’s message was “very gracious.”

Meanwhile, if the narrow margin in the PSC’s District 4 race holds, McDonald will face Blackman again on Dec. 1, more than a month before potential runoffs to settle contests for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats.

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Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, shown here in 2013, faces the potential for a Dec. 1 runoff to keep his seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission. KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, shown here in 2013, faces the potential for a Dec. 1 runoff to keep his seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission. KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

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Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, shown here in 2013, faces the potential for a Dec. 1 runoff to keep his seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission. KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

McDonald, who easily outraised Blackman in campaign donations, described himself as “an independent conservative voice” and stressed experience gained over years on the PSC and in owning a funeral home business.

Blackman, a former business consultant from Forsyth County, described himself as more of a community person who would offer more of a balanced approach than McDonald, whom he said has regularly favored utilities.

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Daniel Blackman, a Forsyth County Democrat, pushed to make it into a Dec. 1 statewide runoff for a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission. Photo courtesy of Blackman's campaign.

Daniel Blackman, a Forsyth County Democrat, pushed to make it into a Dec. 1 statewide runoff for a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission. Photo courtesy of Blackman's campaign.

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Daniel Blackman, a Forsyth County Democrat, pushed to make it into a Dec. 1 statewide runoff for a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission. Photo courtesy of Blackman's campaign.

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