MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The race for Republican Terry Dunn's position on the state's utility regulatory board has become the most crowded on the statewide ballot for 2014, with political commentator Steve Flowers entering the field Wednesday.
Flowers, 62, of Troy said he's joining the field of five Republican candidates for the Public Service Commission because he wants to keep utility rates low and he wants to develop harmony that hasn't existed between Dunn and the other two commissioners. "He doesn't seem to get along with the other commissioners," Flowers said.
In addition to Dunn and Flowers, the field for the Republican primary June 3 includes former Greene County Commissioner Chris "Chip" Beeker, Alabama Minority GOP Chairman Phillip Brown of Birmingham, and production company owner Jonathan Barbee of Birmingham. Flowers said he believes the race has drawn more candidates than governor and every other statewide race because people see Dunn as vulnerable.
Flowers' news conference was watched by several lobbyists for businesses, business associations and organized labor. George Clark, president of Manufacturer Alabama, said he plans to recommend that his board endorse Flowers because of his pro-business record.
Dunn had anticipated lots of opposition after calling for formal rate hearings last year for the state's largest utilities. The other commissioners rejected his request and held informal hearings that produced some rate changes.
Dunn accused Flowers of not being on the side of utility customers. "Flowers stands with those who've spent nearly three decades making sure Alabama utilities' profit margins remain the highest in the country. He knows that's where the money is," Dunn said Wednesday.
Flowers said he will stand out in the crowded field because "I come to this race as the only candidate with a proven pro-business, conservative record of public service."
Flowers served in the Alabama House from 1982 to 1998 and made an unsuccessful run for the state Senate in 2002. When he left politics, he became a political commentator on TV and a columnist for more than 70 newspapers, mostly weeklies.
Flowers said his campaign already has more than $330,000. No other PSC candidate has reported topping $60,000.
If elected, Flowers said he won't use the PSC as a political stepping stone. "This will be my final resting stop politically," he said.