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Collins, Zoller head to runoff for GOP House nod
Political novice Fitzpatrick draws enough votes to deny majority
U.S. House 9th District candidate Doug Collins greets Rick Thompson at the Legacy Lodge & Conference Center at Lake Lanier grand ballroom Tuesday evening.

We the People voting info, election results

Statewide results from Ga. Secretary of State Elections website

U.S. House
9th District, Republican
√ Doug Collins 41.7%
Roger Fitzpatrick 17.1%
√ Martha Zoller 41.1%

What’s next: Collins and Zoller meet in Aug. 21 runoff; winner faces Democrat Jody Cooley in November

Doug Collins
Age: 45
Occupation: Attorney and part-time legislator
Education: North Hall High School, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and North Georgia College and State University
Political experience: Doug spent the last six years in the Georgia General Assembly, serving as a floor leader in the state House for Gov. Nathan Deal in the 2010-2011 legislative session.
Family: Wife Lisa of 24 years; daughter, Jordan; and two sons, Copelan and Cameron
District history: Doug is a life-long resident of Hall County, graduating from North Hall High School and receiving his undergraduate degree from North Georgia College. Doug is the managing partner at his law firm, Collins & Csider.

Martha Zoller
Age: 52
Occupation: Conservative talk show host, office manager for Dr. Linwood Zoller
Education: University of Georgia
Political experience: None
Family: Husband Linwood Zoller of 22 years; children, Chip, Ricky, Mark and Suzanne
History in the district: Martha his lived in the district for the last 20 years; she is a Sunday school teacher at Gainesville First United Methodist, a member of the Gainesville Rotary Club and the Junior League and serves on the board for the Beulah Rucker Foundation and the University of Georgia Alumni Association

Doug Collins and Martha Zoller will be at each other’s throats for another month after neither candidate had enough votes to nab the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 9th District U.S. House race.

Roger Fitzpatrick’s campaign earned him nearly 17 percent of the vote, a level of support that served as a wedge between either of the other candidates’ chance at a majority Tuesday.

The two Republicans from Hall County were neck-and-neck in Tuesday’s vote totals, with Collins eking out a 525 vote lead over Zoller at the end of the night.

Asked about the nail-biting returns, Collins said, “we’ve got plenty of nails left.”

Collins and Zoller now meet in an Aug. 21 runoff. The winner will advance to the November election against Democrat Jody Cooley, who ran unopposed in Tuesday’s primary.

Each wants to represent all or parts of 20 conservative Northeast Georgia counties in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Collins led voting in 12 counties that were largely located on the outer edges of the district.

“We feel good about where we are,” Collins said.

Zoller had strong support in six of the district’s central and southern counties. And in their home county of Hall, Zoller beat Collins by more than 1,000 votes.

The former host of a conservative radio talk show said she was “humbled” by the support she received in her first political campaign. Zoller said only a few months ago, she was told she’d be “crushed” on primary night. She ended the night with more than 41 percent of the vote.

“Well, I didn’t get crushed tonight,” she said. “I did pretty darn good.”

After the returns, both she and Collins said they were looking to the runoff, not just to increase their numbers of supporters in the district but to make sure their existing backers return in three weeks.

“Any runoff is about getting your voters back out, and we plan on doing that,” Collins said.

The two are already seeking the support of Fitzpatrick, who managed a strong showing Tuesday following a campaign that cost him less than $12,000 and, for him, lasted six months. In contrast, his opponents spent six figures on their campaigns and have been campaigning since last fall.

Fitzpatrick, the only candidate in the Republican race not from Hall County, said he’d received calls from both Collins and Zoller by the time the votes were tallied Tuesday.

He will likely decide by the end of today whom he will support.

“I have concerns about both of them,” said Fitzpatrick, a retired educator from Cleveland. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do right now.”

Fitzpatrick’s support in his home county of White was more than double that of Collins, who represented the southern portion of White County in the General Assembly.

White County proved to be the only county in the district where Fitzpatrick came out on top. He grabbed nearly 46 percent of the county’s support.

Fitzpatrick had a campaign run largely by family and friends and on little money, but he campaigned on a return to “the original intent” of the U.S. Constitution, expressed confidence that his was the “winning message.”

He said he’ll continue to fight for that message in the future.

“Our country is worth fighting for,” he said. “While I may not be fighting in the halls of Congress, I can fight in another capacity somewhere else.”

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