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Douglas now out of race

COVINGTON -- In a prepared statement released late Tuesday afternoon, Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, announced he would withdraw his qualification for re-election to Senate District 17 and become a candidate for the Georgia Public Service Commission.

"It's an opportunity to serve the whole state and an opportunity to maintain the reasonable utility rates we have here in Georgia," Douglas said in a telephone interview late Tuesday when asked about his decision.

Douglas will seek the District 2 seat being vacated by the retiring Commissioner Bobby Baker. District 2 covers most of east Georgia, including Newton and Rockdale counties.

"I will use the experience I have gained at both the local and state level of government to ensure the people of Georgia are treated fairly by those companies for which the PSC has oversight," Douglas said in his printed statement.

The PSC is charged with ensuring Georgia consumers receive safe, reliable and reasonably priced utilities, including telecommunications, transportation, electric and natural gas services. PSC commissioners represent districts, but are all elected statewide to serve a six-year term.

Douglas said that Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers will serve as the Honorary Chairman of his campaign and listed 30 endorsements he had received from fellow senators.

An ardent Republican, Douglas said he was most proud of his support for public safety, veterans and active military affairs in the state.

"I saw a number of new benefits passed for our veterans, and I'm glad to have had an impact on legislation that affected veterans, our active duty service men and women and public safety," he said when reached by phone Tuesday evening.

During his tenure in the Georgia Senate, Douglas has served as chair of the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee and on the Appropriations, Public Safety, Ethics, Higher Education and Education and Science and Technology committees.

"Serving in the House and Senate has been a tremendous honor, and the people of Newton and Rockdale counties were a key to that success," Douglas said. "I hope to have that same support serving the entire state."

Douglas served 18 years in the U.S. Army before retiring in 1994. He currently works as a field representative for the Peace Officers Association of Georgia. He was first elected to the Newton County Board of Education in 1998, the Georgia House of Representatives in 2002 and the Georgia Senate in 2004.

Douglas, his wife Susan and daughter Katherine reside in Newton County and attend Salem United Methodist Church.

If his campaign is successful, Douglas will replace Baker who was the lone Democrat on the five-member board.

This week is the candidate qualifying period for all local and state level partisan offices up for election in the Democratic and Republican primaries on July 20.

Rockdale Citizen News Editor Jay Jones contributed to this story.