Georgia voting dates
March 6: Presidential primary (registration deadline Feb. 6; early voting begins Feb. 13); special election for county ballot questions, Flowery Branch City Council
July 31: State primary for legislative, local races (registration deadline July 2)
Aug. 21: Primary runoff, if necessary
Nov. 6: Election Day (registration deadline Oct. 8)
Dec. 4: General election runoff, if necessary
Martha Zoller, conservative radio host and candidate for Georgia's new 9th U.S. House District seat, became the first in the race to pull out the star power Saturday when she appeared with former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain at the Gainesville Civic Center.
With qualifying for the new congressional seat in Georgia several months away, Cain endorsed Zoller, a friend in radio, because the two "align exactly in terms of our beliefs," he said.
"I hate that Martha's going to go off the radio, but I'm loving the fact that she's going to run for Congress, so we will have a voice in Washington who gets it," Cain said.
Zoller, too, said she supports Cain's "9-9-9" plan for tax reform, because she said it was a path to a plan known as the FairTax, which she supports.
Cain, in his endorsement of Zoller, quoted Irish philosopher Edmund Burke in stating that the only way for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.
"I am glad that Martha Zoller decided to do something," said Cain, an Atlantan and former CEO of Godfather's Pizza.
Cain also encouraged Zoller's supporters to get behind the Republican nominee for president - "I don't care who it is" - and urged them to try to appeal to younger voters and independents and moderates with solution-based messages.
He also urged them to recruit black Americans, some of whom he said may be disgruntled Democrats.
"They don't want to feel intimidated by other members who might think that they have veered off the Democrat plantation ..." Cain said. "They use intimidation, and they tried to do it with me."
Zoller, who plans to continue her show on WXKT FM-103.7 until she qualifies as a candidate, credits herself with introducing Cain to radio.
After Cain's unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 2004, she invited him to be a guest host on her show, then broadcast on Gainesville's WDUN-550, Cain said.
"We have been friends ever since," Cain said. "She stands for what we stand for, and unfortunately Washington, D.C., has disconnected from what we stand for."
Cain later became a host on Atlanta's WSB radio from 2008 to early 2011, when he left to pursue a presidential bid. Now that he's out of the race, Cain has returned to the station with taped commentary.
Cain was an early favorite in the Republican primaries, but suspended his campaign in December after being dogged by allegations of sexual harassment and an affair. Cain has denied the allegations.
Zoller said Saturday that she believes him, adding that she did not think her connection to Cain would be a liability to her campaign.
"I don't believe the stories, and I trust Herman to put his family first, and I don't think it will be a problem (for my campaign) at all," she said.
Saturday's rally with its high-profile Republican guest was the Zoller campaign's way of the reset button, campaign manager Ryan Mahoney said.
Zoller's campaign also launched a new website Saturday, marthaforcongress.org.
Both Zoller and Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, joined the race in September as soon as the ink was dry on the state's new congressional map. It created a new House district, Georgia's 14th overall, anchored in Hall County and including all or part of 19 other counties in Northeast Georgia.
Collins got a jump-start on fundraising for the campaign, showing more than $112,000 in contributions over Zoller's $27,500 in the first reporting period last year.
The two will post their latest fundraising numbers early this week. The newest report will include Jackson County Commission Chairman Hunter Bicknell fundraising numbers.
Zoller's rally showed the campaign's support from statewide tea party organizations and women.
In a video played for supporters shortly before Cain's appearance, Zoller said her career in radio began when she became angered by statements by Hilary Clinton that she could have "stayed home baking cookies." At the time, Zoller was a stay-at-home mother.
"I'm not your ordinary mom," Zoller said on the video.
Sign up sheets for various campaign coalitions - "Agriculture for Martha," "Faith Leaders for Martha," "Lawyers for Martha," "Veterans for Martha," "Doctors for Martha" and "Women for Martha" - requested contact information from those who fell into each category. The groups for woman and veterans garnered the most interest.
Congressional races in the area have drawn few contenders in recent years while incumbents like Nathan Deal, now governor, held on to their seats for decades at a time.
"I think one thing you're going to notice a little different about a woman's campaign is we do a lot more hugging," she told the crowd Saturday.
Zoller's campaign is relying on her friends in the tea party as much as her gender.
Cain, too, has ties to the tea party movement, and offered the group's response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address last week. He said new members of Congress sent to Washington need reinforcement.
"It's easy for them to get beat down and discouraged once they get there, and one of the members of Congress who's been there a long time pulls them to the side and says, ‘Now young man, let me tell you how things work here at the Congress,'" said Cain. "That's the way they play the game. That's why we've got to have more people that are going to stand their ground."
Debbie Dooley, the state coordinator for the Georgia Tea Party Patriots, said she encouraged Zoller to join the race.
"It's like men led the first American revolution and now it's women taking the lead," Dooley said.
Julianne Thompson, who is heading up "grass roots" for the Zoller campaign, called Zoller a "constitutional warrior."
Aside from her work with Zoller's campaign, Thompson is an organizer of the Atlanta Tea Party, which endorsed then-state Rep. Tom Graves in the 2010 election to succeed Deal in the 9th District. Graves won election to replace Deal in Washington.
"Martha Zoller ... is genuine. She is the real deal and she has been with us from the very beginning," Thompson said. "She is one of us, and we need to send her to Washington."
Neither of the organizations Dooley works with, including Atlanta Tea Party, is going to make an endorsement in this race, she said. But Dooley said she supports Zoller personally.
Dooley said the fact that Zoller is not a part of the GOP establishment is appealing to the members of the tea party movement.
"We want to send a Tom Graves-type warrior to Washington," she said. "She wants to go up there and ruffle feathers, not smooth things over."