BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards isn’t endorsing the former state lawmaker he appointed to Louisiana’s utility regulatory board in the fall election for the permanent position.

The Democratic governor tapped Houma lawyer Damon Baldone, an ex-state House member, to fill a vacant seat on the Public Service Commission in June. At the time, Edwards said Louisiana’s consumers “will benefit greatly from his years of experience.”

Now that Baldone is running for the PSC seat, the Advocate reports that Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo says the governor won’t be backing a specific candidate in the Oct. 14 election.

Baldone, who had been a Democrat for years, registered for the race as a Republican. Carbo said the party switch didn’t factor into Edwards’ decision not to endorse.

Besides Baldone, two other GOP contenders are running: former state Rep. Lenar Whitney of Houma and Craig Greene, a Baton Rouge doctor. The seat is vacant because Republican Scott Angelle left the commission to join the Trump administration.

The election will determine who serves out the remaining 15 months of Angelle’s term on the five-member PSC, representing all or part of 13 parishes, including areas around Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Houma. The commission sets the rates customers pay for electricity each month and regulates phone companies and intrastate trucking.

Baldone said he was unsure why the governor wouldn’t endorse him, though he speculated it may be because Edwards didn’t want his interim choice to run for the seat permanently. But Baldone said the governor never included that restriction in his appointment.

“He supported me when he appointed me and said I was the most qualified for the job. To me that’s honor enough,” Baldone said Tuesday.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com