AUGUSTA (AP) — Gov. Paul LePage’s pick for chief advocate for utility customers has received a key legislative committee’s unanimous support.

The Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology committee voted on Tuesday to recommend long-time Democrat Barry Hobbins, following supportive testimony from Republican and Democratic leaders.

The next step is Senate confirmation.

The Associated Press reported that Hobbins has long ties with the telecommunications industry, including political contributions and a stint lobbying for AT&T.

Lawmakers on Tuesday asked Hobbins about whether he feels beholden to special interests or donors.

Hobbins said he’s complied with the law and wants to move forward by advocating for utility customers using his blend of legal, political and policy know-how.

Hobbins said he won’t inject himself into solar legislation that Public Advocate Tim Schneider has taken a position on.

Barry Hobbins

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