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Political Notes: Ups, Downs and In-betweens

McDonald Chairing PSC: Lauren “Bubba” McDonald was elected by fellow commissioners to a two-year term as chair of the Georgia Public Service Commission. He succeeds former Chair Stan Wise, who resigned.

McDonald, in his third term on the PSC, previously served as chair in 2009.

Tricia Pridemore, a Marietta businesswoman, was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to finish out Wise’s term, which ends Dec. 31. She served as executive director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s 11th District.

Pridemore is the third woman to serve on the Public Service Commission; her predecessors were Earleen Sizemore, who was appointed to fill a vacancy, and Angela Speir, who was elected in 2002.


NRA Money, Grades: Georgia’s U.S. congressional delegation has received more than $2.5 million from the NRA and other pro-gun organizations in recent years, according to an analysis of information from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Joyner. Some of the money took the form of direct NRA contributions, some came from other gun groups and some was classified as independent NRA spending.

Only three members of Congress, all Democrats, have received no gun-lobby funding: John Lewis and David Scott, from Atlanta, and Hank Johnson, Lithonia. Rep. Sanford Bishop, Albany, a Democrat first elected in 1992, has benefited from NRA contributions. He is the lone Democrat to receive an A grade from the NRA; Johnson and Lewis earned an F, and Scott got a D.

Both Republican senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, received NRA contributions; both received A grades.

All Republican members of Georgia’s House delegation received NRA funding. These representatives each earned an A: Rick Allen, Augusta; Buddy Carter, Pooler; Austin Scott, Macon; Doug Collins, Gainesville; Jody Hice, Bethlehem; Barry Loudermilk, Woodstock; and Tom Graves, Rome.

Republican Rob Woodall, Lawrenceville, earned a B; Republicans Karen Handel, Roswell, and Drew Ferguson, West Point, relatively new to Congress, have not yet been graded.


LaHood Victory: Republican John LaHood won a special election in state House District 175 and will complete the term of former Rep. Amy Carter, a Republican and long-time teacher who has been named the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s deputy commissioner for rural Georgia. The district covers portions of Lowndes, Brooks and Thomas counties.

Peake Not Running: State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), a staunch medical marijuana advocate, announced that he will not run again for his House seat representing the 141st District.

Peake authored the Haleigh’s Hope Act, passed in 2015, permitting the use of medical marijuana for certain conditions. A subsequent bill expanded the list of disorders, but Peake has not succeeded in getting legislation passed that would allow regulated growers in the state to cultivate cannabis for medical use.


Doyle To Ag Post: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue named Atlanta businessman Joseph Doyle as his consumer service coordinator. Doyle was head of the state Office of Consumer Service when Perdue was governor.


Kemp, ACLU Reach Settlement: Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia have agreed to settle a lawsuit the ACLU filed over updating voters’ addresses. The settlement means voters will no longer be considered inactive if they move within the same county but fail to confirm their new addresses.

The ACLU suit was filed after a Fulton County resident received a letter informing her that she needed to update her voting address after she moved within the county. The suit alleged that the state was not in compliance with federal laws that require election officials to update voters’ addresses automatically.

An ACLU press release says, “Kemp has now agreed to update the addresses of voters who had moved within the same county in the last two years, mail them new precinct cards and create a system to ensure that this never occurs again.”


New Gordon State Head: Kirk Nooks has been named president of Gordon State College in Barnesville, effective June 1. Nooks, currently president of Metropolitan Community College – Longview, in Missouri, was formerly a campus dean and executive liaison for diversity at Georgia Highlands College.

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