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After intense grilling, Senate committee confirms PSC nominees

The Senate Communications, Energy and Utilities Committee voted 8-1 in favor of the confirmation of Gov. Charlie Crist's nominees to the Public Service Commission, Benjamin "Steve" Stevens and David Klement 8-1. Only Sen. Chris Smith voted no, despite indications that he and others on the committee had planned to vote against them to send a message to the governor.

"Both gentlemen are fine gentlemen. Their attributes will be a positive influence on the PSC", he said, but he wanted to send a message to the governor that he objected to the lack of racial diversity on the panel. The governor was given a list of six names but only two did not have any ties to the PSC or the industry. Crist picked those two, saying he was looking for "fresh blood."

But the chairman of the committee, Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, warned that the racial diversity issue will continue to haunt the nominees, which still be confirmed by the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and the full Senate. "This is the first step in a very long process,'' he said.