Nancy Schaefer, who has represented the 50th District in the State Senate for the past three and a half years, was turned away for a bid for a third term by voters.
The election was decided by those who cast Republican ballots as Schaefer lost the runoff to Jim Butterworth, chairman of the Habersham County Board of Commissioners. While the people of 50th District, which includes Banks County, will have to grin and bear it concerning Schaefer for the remainder of the year, relief is on the way. Butterworth will take office in January.
Schaefer has always represented the extreme right-wing of the Republican party. Like Cynthia McKinney is to the left, Schaefer is to the right. While extremists make for enjoyable viewing at times, they really aren’t effective at what they are doing. That’s why it was past time for Schaefer to go. It should have happened two years ago.
In 2006, a clearly more qualified candidate in Carol Jackson challenged Schaefer. I thought the race was a no-brainer for voters. However, Schaefer won although I have still yet to figure out why. The only reason I can offer is because Schaefer had an “R” by her name while Jackson had a “D” by hers.
Of course, this is not amble reason to vote for any candidate. To simple support a candidate solely because of his or her party is lazy voting. It’s what gives us elected officials such as Schaefer and McKinney.
This summer, two Republicans lined up to challenge Schaefer and both were clearly better options than the incumbent. I felt good about the chances for a new state senator. Both Butterworth and fellow challenger Terry Rogers were conservative, make no doubt about. However, they had plans if elected to the state senate. They simply did not mouth extremist right-wing propaganda which really had nothing to do with the office they were seeking.
Yet, Schaefer continued to show strong vote gathering power and did well in the primary. Rogers was eliminated from the battle leaving a primary runoff between the incumbent and Butterworth. My confidence from just a few weeks earlier was now beginning to fade. Perhaps the voters in the 50th District were in fact going to send Schaefer back for a third term. Part of me couldn’t imagine it happening, but she was showing signs of doing it. All she needed to do now was win the runoff. There was no Democratic challenger waiting in the wings and even if there were it wouldn’t have mattered.
Schaefer, however, must have felt threatened because she went negative in the final days of the runoff campaign and I believe that really worked again her. She went as far as trying to criticize Butterworth for having a full-time job.
When it was all over, Butterworth coasted to victory and a much better voice has now been elected. The citizens deserve credit for finally seeing through the Schaefer mystique and elected someone who will represent them well in Atlanta.
Butterworth is now preparing for his first term as a state senator. Schaefer meanwhile is finishing out the final weeks of her term in office and blasting an area newspaper for what she calls “erroneous journalism.” In a ridiculous attack on The Northeast Georgian based in Cornelia, Schaefer shows just how far off the deep end she has now gone.
Look for much better representative for the citizens of the 50th District during the next two years. However, don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard the last of Nancy Schaefer. It’s hard for extremists to go away quietly or even go away at all.
Chris Bridges is a reporter for The Banks County News. Contact him at 706-367-2745 or e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.