Roger Fitzpatrick is going to let the voters of Georgia’s 9th District decide the merits of the two Republican candidates left in the U.S. House race on their own.
Fitzpatrick said Wednesday that he won’t endorse either Doug Collins or Martha Zoller, who finished first and second, respectively, in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
The two candidates from Hall County have three weeks to convince voters from the 20-county district to both support them and show up at the polls for the Aug. 21 primary runoff.
Collins and Zoller had reached out to Fitzpatrick after the retired White County educator received nearly 17 percent of the vote.
But Fitzpatrick said he wouldn’t weigh in on the runoff, saying voters need to decide on their own.
Fitzpatrick, whose campaign often centered on having a federal government that reflected the original intent of the U.S. Constitution, urged voters to use the document to judge the two candidates left in the race.
“That needs to be the filter that they use to make the decision,” Fitzpatrick said.
Both candidates are sure they’ll pass that test, according to their campaign aides.
Collins earned 42 percent of the vote to Zoller’s 41 percent in the primary, a margin of just 729 votes separating them.
Zoller fared better than Collins in some of the district’s most populous counties, even grabbing some 1,000 more votes than the former state representative in Hall, their home county.
Collins, on the other hand, received the most votes in 12 counties.
Fitzpatrick won the majority of votes in his home of White County.
Spokespeople for each candidate said both Zoller and Collins were seeking Fitzpatrick’s endorsement to help them gain the support of the majority of the district’s voters, but respected his decision.
“We would have loved to have him on our team,” Collins spokeswoman Loree Anne Thompson said. “He has to do what’s right for him and we respect that.”
Zoller’s campaign manager Ryan Mahoney said he believes Zoller fits the bill of Fitzpatrick’s favorite candidate.
“Martha’s the only candidate in this race with a long history of being a constitutional conservative,” Mahoney said.
“I think Doug has a record,” Thompson said. “He has a clear record of standing for something, of passing good, common-sense legislation in Georgia that follows the Georgia Constitution as well as the U.S. Constitution, and that’s something we’re very proud of.”