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Monday, April 16, 2012

Democrat Steve Oppenheimer launches bid to unseat PSC Commissioner Chuck Eaton

A retired Sandy Springs resident who says he's spent the last decade working on energy and energy-security issues wants to unseat Chuck Eaton, the Republican utilities regulator who's represented Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties since 2006.

Democrat Steve Oppenheimer announced his candidacy today to face off against Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton in November. The five-member state agency helps decide how much Georgians pay to turn on their lights and heat their ovens, among other regulated industries.

Oppenheimer, who retired from dentistry in 2001, promises to push for lower utility rates and more clean energy, among other issues, and touts his service with such groups as Clean-Cities Atlanta, Metro Atlanta Plug In Electric Vehicle Readiness Task Force, and the the city's Electric Vehicle Task Force as greenie credentials. He also points to his role as a "Coalition Member of Analysis" of Global Security, a "Washington, D.C. group focusing on energy security."

According to campaign disclosures, Oppenheimer's raised nearly $95,000 and, after expenditures, has more than $86,000 available. Eaton, a former real estate agent who's finishing up his first six-year term on the PSC, reported more than $79,000 in cash on hand. Considering he's an incumbent, the Atlanta resident could probably depend on a few GOP networks and fellow pachyderms for cash as the campaign continues.

Interesting tidbit: Nowhere in Oppenheimer's announcement - or on his website that we can find - does it mention he's a Democrat. His campaign did confirm this, however, and his disclosures show expenditures to Landslyde LLC, a political consulting firm that's worked for the Democratic Party of Georgia, state Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, and other Dems. It's a smart move to downplay the Democratic ties, we suppose. Though the PSC is broken into districts, voters across the GOP bastion known as Georgia get to decide its commissioners.

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