A guide to the candidates in Jan. 5 runoff elections
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By Zoe Seiler, contributor
Atlanta, GA – Georgians will be heading to the polls again in December and January.
Both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats and a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission are on the ballot for the Jan. 5 runoff elections.
The runoff elections for U.S. Senate and the state Public Service Commission will take place on Jan. 5, and early voting began Monday, Dec. 14.
Here is a look at the candidates that will be on the ballot.
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Public Service Commission District 4 Seat
The Georgia Public Service Commission determines fair and reasonable rates for services under its jurisdiction. The PSC regulates Georgia’s utilities, including telephone service, natural gas, and electricity.
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (Incumbent)
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald is the incumbent Republican commissioner on the Public Service Commission. He served as a state representative for 20 years and was appointed to the commission in June 1998 to fill a vacant seat, according to his commissioner page on the Public Service Commission website.
McDonald is a member of the Electric Committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and is an executive member of the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition.
During McDonald’s time on the commission he has presided over solar power in the state resulting in Georgia becoming one of the top five fastest growing states in the country in regards to solar energy, the PSC website says.
McDonald, a funeral home owner, has a platform that includes a priority to “protect the rate payers, keep the regulated companies in check and maintain low energy costs in Georgia,” The Augusta Chronicle reported.
“On renewable energy, he pledges to ‘direct our conservative and thoughtful free-market approach without putting upward pressure on rates and without state-sponsored financial incentives,’” according to the Augusta Chronicle.
McDonald described himself as “an independent conservative voice” during the November election cycle and emphasized the experience he’s gained over the years on the PSC and in owning a funeral home business, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Decaturish reached out to McDonald and he declined to comment.
Daniel Blackman is the democratic candidate running for the state’s Public Service Commission. He is a community leader, impact investor and policy advisor and is focused on environmental justice, public health, and political empowerment to uplift the most vulnerable communities, according to Blackman’s campaign website.
Professionally, Blackman was the senior vice president for environmental affairs and sustainability at Capital Fortitude Business Advisors.
Blackman previously served on an Environment Policy Commission that was co-sponsored by members of the United States Congress. The commission aimed to address renewable energy and public health issues in disadvantaged communities, his website says.
Blackman has also served as an advisor to the Congressional Black Caucus and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on environmental justice issues. He also was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Children, Marriage and Family Law, his website says.
Blackman is supportive of bringing high-speed internet to all Georgia counties, securing the electric grid against threats and strengthening utility assistance programs.
During the general election cycle, Blackman described himself as a community person who would offer more of a balanced approach
“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,” the AJC reported.
Blackman was a featured guest on a recent episode of the Decaturish Twitch show. To see that episode, click here.
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U.S. Senate Special Runoff Election
Sen. Kelly Loeffler
Sen. Kelly Loeffler is an incumbent Republican senator from Georgia. Loeffler was sworn in as the newest senator from the state on Jan. 6, 2020. She was appointed to the seat by Gov. Brian Kemp after former Sen. Johnny Isakson retired at the end of 2019, CNN reported.
Loeffler is a conservative businesswoman and political outsider, her campaign website states.
In the Senate she has worked to spur economic growth, fight illegal immigration, champion fair trade deals and to protect farmers. She is pro-life, pro-2nd amendment and pro-border wall, according to the campaign website.
Loeffler is unapologetically pro-life, her campaign website says. She has co-sponsored four abortion bills and is endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List, a leading pro-life nonprofit organization.
“One of these bills would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, another would make permanent a rule restricting federal funding for abortion services and the third requires medical care for fetuses that are still alive after an abortion procedure,” the Atlanta Journal-Contitution reported.
Loeffler is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and firmly opposes every effort to limit gun rights, according to her campaign website.
During her first couple months in the U.S. Senate, Loeffler co-sponsored three bills related to gun rights. A statement released in February described the bills as “three common-sense bills that protect and expand the freedoms of gun-owners,” according to the Saporta Report.
One bill allows a qualified person to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state that allows for concealed firearms. Another would remove silencers from the definition of firearms related to the National Firearms Act. The third bill would repeal a ban on certain veterans from owning and acquiring guns, according to the Saporta Report.
She is additionally supportive of President Donald Trump’s border wall, deporting MS-13 gang members and reforming the country’s immigration system.
Decaturish reached out to the Loeffler campaign but did not receive an immediate response.
Rev. Raphael Warnock
The Rev. Raphael Warnock is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the former pulpit of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Warnock was the youngest pastor selected to serve at the historic church, his campaign website states.
Warnock is running against Loeffler in the special election. He will focus on fighting for affordable health care, for the dignity of working people, and voting rights.
“He is running for office because he believes Georgians need a U.S. Senator who puts their interests first. He understands that there are places all across our state — from underserved communities of color in South Georgia to rural North Georgia towns suffering losing access to health care, that are looking for someone to fight for them,” a campaign spokesperson said.
Warnock has not released his health care plan but he supports strengthening the ACA, lowering prescription drug costs and of health insurance and protecting those with pre-existing conditions.
He additionally supports the public option that wasn’t passed with the first iteration of the ACA as well as expanding Medicaid, Decaturish previously reported.
“As Senator, he would fight to preserve and improve the Affordable Care Act, work to ensure protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and act on behalf of Georgians to pass urgently needed COVID relief,” a campaign spokesperson said.
Warnock is also focused on jobs and the economy. He and Demcratic candidate Jon Ossoff share the slogan of health, jobs, and justice.
His campaign website says he believes the economy needs to be rebuilt and will protect the dignity of workers by advocating for fair wages, equitable employment practices and helping small business owners.
Another priority of Warnock is securing access to the ballot box for every eligible voter.
“To ensure free, fair, secure and accurate elections, he will focus on protecting and expanding voting rights for all eligible people by re-authorizing the Voting Rights Act/the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, making Election Day a federal holiday and fighting back against voter suppression efforts,” a campaign spokesperson said.
U.S. Senate Regular Runoff Election
Sen. David Perdue
Sen. David Perdue is one of the incumbent Republican senators from Georgia. He is a businessman with more than 40 years of experience leading some of the nation’s most recognizable companies including Sara Lee, Haggar and Reebok, according to his campaign website.
He also oversaw Dollar General’s expansion from 5,900 to 8,500 stores nationwide while he was a Fortune 500 CEO.
Throughout Perdue’s first term as senator he has focused on the following principles: economic opportunity for everyone, individual liberty, limited government and fiscal responsibility. Over the past four years, Perdue has been a strong ally of President Donald Trump, his campaign website says.
If elected for a second term, Perdue listed rebuilding the economy and passing policing legislation as top priorities, according to the AJC in an in-depth article about the senator.
Perdue would also like to revisit overhauling the federal budget process, an old goal of his. He believes this is the first step toward tackling the country’s spiraling debt and fast-depleting Medicare and Social Security trust funds, the AJC reported. He views these issues as major threats to the country’s economic security.
Perdue believes the U.S. needs police and criminal justice reform in order to ensure equal justice for all, a notion the other Senate candidates share. He is committed to providing law enforcement with the resources they need to keep communities safe.
He opposed the defund the police movement, co-sponsored a bill that would ensure police are represented in the communities they serve, and is a strong supporter of the First Step Act which removes mandatory minimums for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders, according to his campaign website.
COVID-19 has been a major topic throughout the campaign and a focus for Ossoff, Perdue’s opponent.
Perdue’s main focus is the safety and security of Georgians. He strongly encourages everyone to do their part to protect themselves and others by following the recommended safety precautions of washing hands, social distancing and wearing a mask, his campaign website says.
Decaturish reached out to Perdue’s campaign but did not receive an immediate response.
Jon Ossoff is a Democratic nominee to the U.S. Senate running against Perdue. He is a media executive, investigative reporter and small business owner.
Since 2013, Ossoff has served as the CEO of Insight TWI, a media production company that investigates corruption, organized crime and war crimes for international news organizations, according to his campaign website.
Before taking over Insight TWI, Ossoff was a national security aide for Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson. He handled defense, foreign affairs, intelligence and economic policy.
Ossoff is running against Perdue in the regular Senate runoff election. He is focused on health care, clean energy and the economy, among other issues.
“Jon is running to ensure every Georgian has great health care, to deliver historic investments in clean energy and infrastructure, to rebuild this economy so working families and small businesses thrive, and to root out corruption so the government serves the people — not private interests with legions of lobbyists,” a campaign spokesperson said.
Ossoff’s top three campaign issues are health, jobs and justice.
On the campaign trail, Ossoff has emphasized the need to control the coronavirus and rush immediate economic relief to families and small businesses.
“As he says, it’s time for politicians to appreciate the limits of their own knowledge and let health experts guide our response to this pandemic,” a campaign spokesperson said. “In the Senate, Jon will empower the medical experts to lead with a strong federal response to get this pandemic under control and so we can begin to rebuild.”
Ossoff additionally has advocated for a new Civil Rights Act to advance criminal justice reform.
“That will impose accountability where officers or departments or prosecutors or judges engage in brutality, profiling, or where there’s race or class bias in policing, prosecution, sentencing, incarceration,” a campaign spokesperson said.
He also supports passing a new Voting Rights Act to protect the right to vote and make voter suppression a federal crime.
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