Of the three Republicans on the January 5th run-off ballot, only PSC Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald survived.
Some suggested it was the Dalton Trump Rally audience chanting, “Bubba, Bubba, Bubba” that gave him the victory, others that it was simply incredible luck that he won his third statewide run-off. But anyone with a pulse that follows Georgia politics, they know differently.
First, McDonald is 82 years old. Most people that age are either dead, in an assisted-living home or making plans to be. Not Bubba. He was circumventing the Peach State in his “wrapped” Kia Telluride emblazoned with the phrase “Advancing Georgia’s Solar” on the side. His energy level for his age is nothing less than astounding. The man flies his own airplane, captains a houseboat, trots on his horse, and drives any number of vehicles including four-wheelers, motorcycles, a VW Bug and even an old Model A Ford. That energy allows him to go everywhere and meet everyone—and he is a guy you don’t forget.
Second, Bubba served for 20 years in the Georgia Legislature, and before that as a county commissioner. Then sixteen years on the statewide Public Service Commission. Those decades of public service created tens of thousands of opportunities to build goodwill for small businesses, manufacturers, cities, counties and everyday citizens—of all political stripes. When you engage personally for someone to help them with a problem, they don’t forget it. And as someone who serves with Bubba, I can tell you that he hasn’t stopped helping people with issues. Multiply that over 36 years of being in office, and it is not hard to understand how he outperformed everyone on the ballot.
Finally, Bubba’s political “sense” is as keen as it comes. He has helped negotiate major policy changes in the state including bringing solar power into existence in Georgia—but in a way that has made sense. We have no blue state type mandate called an RPS, or Renewable Portfolio Standard. We have no subsidy that has broken the back of other rate-payers. Instead, he helped create a market-driven approach to renewable energy that is the envy of the country. Add to that his stalwart support for nuclear energy, cheap natural gas and a splash of biomass—and you can see why he is popular with most people. And did I mention that our rates are 14 percent below the national average.
McDonald is a legend in Georgia, and his defiance of the odds in the recent election proves it.
Vice-Chair of the Georgia Public Service Commission