I’ll admit that we haven’t given the down ballot races the attention they deserve on these pages. I don’t like to write about campaigns anymore, and a lot of the folks we have left are actively working on other campaigns or otherwise have conflicts that keep them from being honest brokers. The loss of Jon Richards still looms large in Georgia’s political news delivery.
With that said, I do want to focus a bit of attention on one of the races for Public Service Commissioner and, specifically, Tricia Pridemore.
Much of the coverage in other media outlets has covered the sensational aspects of this race. What is “sensational” about a down ballot race? Mostly whether or not each candidate is sufficiently pro-Trump and the usual implications of a lingering animosity from a local Tea Party leader, still upset that Pridemore was backed by Governor Deal for a state party chairmanship 7 years ago. (Hint, Nathan Deal has an 85% approval rating among Georgia Republicans. Pointing out that Pridemore has been part of Nathan Deal’s administration isn’t the negative hit piece that some people seem to think it is.)
True, Tricia Pridemore was appointed to the Public Service Commission. That’s a signal that a highly popular and effective Governor has confidence in her ability to execute the mission of the job. As do I.
I have this confidence not because of the most recent appointment, but because of the ways I’ve been able to get to know Tricia both as a friend and as a professional.
As a friend, I’ll harken back to the very bitter primary for Governor in 2010. Tricia and I were on opposite sides of the runoff. It was public, in the wild-west days of blogging. It got personal for many. Tricia was the one from the opposite camp that checked in regularly to remind me that at the end of the day, we were all on the same team, not to let the daily skirmishes get under my skin, and otherwise affirm that honest differences of opinion needed to remain that. It was a warm personal touch at a time where nothing was warm, and everything else had grown too personal.
A year or so later, Pridemore was running the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development. I had no idea what that was, or why it was important. I imagine that’s what a lot of folks think of the PSC. Sometimes you need someone that understands the tasks to take positions where wonks can fix big problems while keeping the wonkish nature on task and out of sensational headlines.
It was in rebuilding the Office of Workforce Development and consolidating many positions from the Department of Labor that put Georgia on track to earn it’s “number one state to do business” ranking. This is the office that was charged (at a time with 12% unemployment in some parts of the state) to figure out how we had some industries with jobs that were going unfilled.
I recall many conversations with Tricia with her explaining why we had 3,000 welding positions open that paid $70,000 per year, and 16,000 truck driving positions paying $16.50 per hour. From the Governor’s office perspective, this was the kind of research that led to the High Demand Career Initiative, where Georgia will now pay for tuition in technical colleges in high demand career fields – one that keeps expanding and evolving to meet demands of today’s job markets.
For me, this helped me understand the many things below the headlines that were helping dig our state out of an economic ditch, and put me squarely on the road to someone that wanted to use this space to help explain policy and build consensus, rather than offer punditry for entertainment and criticism without full understanding.
Her friendship during the tough times made the conversations possible. Her understanding of the task required provided the basis for understanding how deep and far reaching the Governor’s agenda was, and the many pieces he was moving on the chessboard to get it done.
Her appointment to the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development wasn’t a thank you for loyalty. It was an opportunity to get things done. And Georgia did.
I’m looking for the same things out of her at the PSC. Tricia Pridemore needs to be elected for a full term.