A North Georgia seat in the capitol is opening up.
State Rep. Bruce Broadrick, R-Dalton, on Friday announced he is resigning after five years in the Legislature. He was elected in 2012 and has served as vice chairman of the House's Game, Fish and Parks Committee and as vice chairman of the Human Resources Appropriations subcommittee.
Broadrick, 65, told the Times Free Press he stepped down because of his health. He did not elaborate, but he also told the Dalton Daily Citizen he suffered a stroke several years ago, cutting off blood flow to the right side of his brain. He said his family feared he could not safely drive back and forth from Dalton to Atlanta to work in the state capitol this winter.
He gave House Speaker David Ralston the news Wednesday and also sent a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal.
"I don't feel like I can be at the top of my game." he said. "If I can't be at the top of my game for my constituents, it's not fair for me to sort of hang around. I've loved my five years in the House. It's been the highest honor in my life."
Broadrick's term was supposed to run through the end of 2018.
According to his campaign website, Broadrick's father ran Frank's Pharmacy in Dalton. Broadrick later took over the business, where he worked for 39 years. He also served as the president of the Georgia Pharmacy Association and was the chairman of the Whitfield County Board of Health.
Former state Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, served on the health board with Broadrick in the 1990s. When they became legislators, Dickson said, Broadrick was a champion for health care laws, particularly on issues dealing with pharmacists. He was a member of the House's Health and Human Services Committee. Last year, he sat on state Sen. Jeff Mullis' State Commission on Narcotic Treatment Programs.
Several state lawmakers described Broadrick as a quiet presence under the Gold Dome.
"He was not the gregarious, outspoken, rah-rah-rah person," Dickson said. "He just did his job, and did it in an effective way."
Said Roger Williams, who preceded Broadrick as the state House's District 4 representative: "Bruce wasn't outspoken on any particular issues. He was more of a listener than a talker. But he was a good man."
State Sen. Chuck Payne, R- Dalton, said Broadrick called him Thursday to give him the news. Payne was shocked. Broadrick hadn't hinted at leaving in their past conversations. Payne said he believes Broadrick's health issues must be more serious than previously thought; he seemed to love his time in the state capitol.
Payne, who joined the Legislature in January, said he worked with Broadrick to secure state funding for renovations at Dalton State. The governor did not initially set aside the $4.1 million the local college administrators wanted to update the 50-year-old Sequoya Hall, which houses math and science classes. But Payne worked with the appropriations committee in the Senate while Broadrick lobbied their counterparts in the House to deliver the funding.
Payne said he's not yet sure how local politicians can fill Broadrick's seat. Payne himself was in a similar position last year, when Deal appointed state Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, to the Georgia Court of Appeals in November. His vacancy led to a special election, which Payne won in a runoff in January — the week the legislative session began.
No special election has been set yet for Broadrick's seat. But a couple of Dalton residents said they are ready to run.
Beau Patton actually told his friends three weeks ago that he planned to run against Broadrick next year. Patton, a former recreation director at a local assisted living center, said he wants to go to Atlanta and pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Former State Sen. Josh McKoon, R- Columbus, tried to pass the legislation in 2014 and 2015, though the House never voted on it.
A similar bill passed the legislature in 2016, allowing faith-based organizations to deny services to those who violate their "sincerely held religious belief." For example, a bakery could decline to sell a wedding cake for a gay couple's reception. Broadrick voted in support of the bill, but Deal vetoed the measure in April 2016 as companies such as Disney, Time Warner and Apple campaigned against it as a measure that protected discrimination.
"I want to be a voice of the Christian people," Patton said Friday. "I want to give God the glory."
Kasey Carpenter, who owns Oakwood Cafe and Cherokee Pizza and Brewing in Dalton, said he also will run for Broadrick's seat. This will be his second stab at the position. In May 2016, he lost to Broadrick in the Republican primary, gaining 45.6 percent of 4,168 votes.
Carpenter said he would aim to decrease government regulations to encourage more businesses to come to Georgia. In particular, he wants to decrease the personal state income tax, from 6 percent to 2-3 percent.
"Jobs are always going to be the most important issue," he said.
Contact staff writer Tyer Jett at 423-757-6476 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.
Correction: A previous version of this story said that Kasey Carpenter wants to decrease the corporate tax rate from 6 percent to 2-3 percent. He said he wants to lower the personal income tax rate.