State Sen. Nancy Schaefer, R-Turnerville, announced Tuesday that she would be a candidate for the 10th District seat in the U.S. House. Schaefer joins state Rep. Barry Fleming in seeking the GOP nomination against U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens.
Broun was elected in a July 2007 special election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of U.S. Rep. Charles Norwood, R-Augusta.
A Democrat, Bobby Saxon, is also running for the seat.
Schaefer, who was elected to the Senate in 2004, is president of Family Concerns, a Christian organization. Schaefer ran for mayor of Atlanta in 1993, was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 1994 and finished third in the GOP race for governor in 1998.
Schaefer said she had been encouraged by supporters to run for the seat for nearly a year. She said a district poll gave favorable results, so she gave the race serious consideration.
"There has been some dissatisfaction there (with Broun) that has prompted some people to talk to me about this," Schaefer said.
The district stretches from Augusta to south of Athens, north to Towns County and follows the state border with North and South Carolina. It has two population centers, Athens and Augusta.
However, Schaefer said a reapportioned district may not include Augusta in the future.
"We feel like the day may come when Augusta will be drawn into another district, other than the 10th," she said. "We would like to see this North Georgia seat be given to a North Georgian."
Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor, said the entrance of Schaefer creates a triangular split of the region with Fleming in Augusta, Broun in Athens and Schaefer in the northern region.
"Each area has a candidate and for some folks that’s good enough to get their vote," Bullock said. "It’s the old ‘friends and neighbors’ politics."
Bullock said it will likely split the vote of religious conservatives, who were crucial in Broun’s election in 2007.
"She and Paul may be a bit close ideologically," Bullock said.
Schaefer concedes that she and Broun may hold the same position on some issues.
"I’m sure there will be some overlapping and the same will be true with Barry Fleming," she said. "This race is important and I think getting the right person representing the 10th District is a necessity."