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Collins defeats Zoller in 9th District US House race
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Martha Zoller talks to a reporter on her phone shorty after her concession speech at 2 Dog Cafe on Tuesday evening. Incumbent Doug Collins edged out Zoller for the Republican nomination to represent the 9th District in U.S. House. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

We The People: Follow the links for county-by-county and statewide election results

U.S. House
9th District, Republican

Doug Collins 54.6%
Martha Zoller 45.4%

What’s next: Collins earns the GOP nomination and faces Democrat Jody Cooley in the Nov. 6 general election.

 

U.S. House
9th District, Republican
Doug Collins    38,993    54.6%
Martha Zoller    32,393    45.4%
What’s next: Collins faces Democrat Jody Cooley in the Nov. 6 general election.

Republican voters in Northeast Georgia chose a former state representative to represent their party in the November election for Georgia’s newest U.S. House seat.

In Tuesday’s 9th District runoff, Doug Collins received almost 55 percent of the GOP vote, eliminating Martha Zoller’s chance of becoming the first female Republican elected to Congress from Georgia.

Zoller, a conservative radio host from Gainesville who had nabbed endorsements from national heavyweights like Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity, led in five of the district’s 20 counties. But Collins, a three-term member of the Georgia House from Gainesville, took the rest.

Collins’ campaign had last-minute help from Gov. Nathan Deal and support from Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and former Gov. Zell Miller.

Standing in front of a room full of supporters in downtown Gainesville’s Hunt Tower, an elated Collins told the crowd its job was not done.

“I’m going to need your help tomorrow,” he said.

Collins will face Democrat Jody Cooley in a Nov. 6 election for the Northeast Georgia district with a population based largely in Hall and Forsyth counties.

Though she promised to support “all Republicans” in November, Zoller stopped short of lending a hand to Collins’ campaign. Zoller said she told Collins in a phone call “there were a lot of things we needed to talk about.”

“I haven’t gotten any farther than that,” she said.

Collins edged Zoller for the most votes in the July 31 primary by only 734 votes.

Some 65 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the primary returned to the polls Tuesday.

The unofficial results showed Zoller lost support she previously had in some of the district’s biggest counties, including Hall and Jackson. She attributed the lost ground to an inability to bring her supporters back to the polls for the runoff.

“I’ve got to give Doug credit,” she said. “He did a better job of getting his voters out.”

The decision Tuesday gave Cooley, a Gainesville attorney, a target for November. But before aiming, Cooley took a moment to congratulate Collins.

But even as he stood on the sidelines as Collins and Zoller duked it out, Cooley said he never saw a lot of difference between the two.

“I can promise the voters of the 9th that they will be able to tell a difference between my positions and Doug’s positions,” Cooley said.

Cooley also promised to alter the debate in the campaign, focusing mainly on “kitchen table issues” important to voters in Northeast Georgia, namely the national budget, health care and immigration.

He said he thought voters were tired of hearing about gay marriage and abortion, two issues Collins hammered Zoller with on the campaign. But Collins said he’d continue spreading his “consistent conservative” message, which he said focused equally on economic and social issues.

“The whole package matters,” Collins said.

Zoller she said she wasn’t sure about returning to radio. She vowed to spend the next months as a “strong woman’s voice” working for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

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