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Showdown likely today over Crist's PSC appointments

Stay tuned for a showdown this morning in the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee where, as of last night, it appeared they had the votes to reject the confirmation of Gov. Charlie Crist's appointments to the Public Service Commission.

If the committee moves ahead as expected, the rejection will be the second failed confirmation of a high profile pick of the governor's and more proof that the Senate is all-in for continuing their political fight with Crist. It would also be a major win for Florida's electric monopolies, which have quietly made rejection of PSC Commissioners Benjamin "Steve" Stevens and David Klement their top priority this session, in the wake of a bruising rejection of their rate increase request in January.

The meeting could also take on racial tones as Sen. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat who lobbied for FPL in Broward, mounts an effort to oppose the nomination because, he says, the appointments lack the diversity on the panel. He told the Herald/Times that joining him will be Sen. Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat who voted to include Stevens and Klement on the list Crist was given to choose from and, insiders say, they have the votes to succeed.

Stevens and Klement were considered long shots because they were the only two on the list who had no previous PSC experience. Crist said he picked Klements and Stevens precisely because they were "fresh faces." Stevens is a former finance director at the Escambia County Sheriff's Office and Klement was the chairman of the Bradenton Herald newspaper's editorial board.

The four rejected from the list were former PSC chairman Matthew Carter, who is black, former PSC commissioner Katrina McMurrian and two others, attorney Felicia West and accountant John Grayson. Both had worked for the PSC in various roles and also are black..