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Political Pulse: Zoller leaving radio for campaign trail
Congressional candidate debate to be held May 15
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Today will be Martha Zoller’s last day on the radio.

Zoller’s campaign manager, Ryan Mahoney, said she’s drawing the curtain on her radio career, and, after her show on WXKT-FM 103.7 today, she will be a full-time candidate for Congress.

A representative for the station has confirmed Zoller’s departure from the weekday conservative talk show.

The decision has been met with little fanfare from her chief rival in the campaign, state Rep. Doug Collins, who unsuccessfully lobbied her employer, Cox Media Group, for equal time on the station back in December.

Collins and Zoller are running for Georgia’s newest 9th District U.S. House seat, which would represent all or part of 20 counties in Northeast Georgia, including Hall.

Also in the race are Jackson County Commission Chairman Hunter Bicknell, White County school principal Roger Fitzpatrick and economic development strategist Clifton McDuffie.

Zoller has planned all along to leave the station when she qualified for the race, which she and all other serious candidates will do in a little less than two weeks on May 23-25.

Just ahead of her departure from the radio, Zoller released her campaign’s platform titled the “MAP for Prosperity” (MAP is an acronym for Martha’s Action Plan) this week.

In it, Zoller promises to hold a weekly online town hall that would allow constituents to be heard on the issues of the week. Mahoney calls the Zoller promise the “crowning achievement” of her platform.

Zoller’s platform also calls for limiting members of the U.S. House and Senate to six and two terms, respectively. Zoller also wants to keep federal employees from serving more than 12 years in a specific office, and wants to repeal 50 percent of business regulations, though she doesn’t specify which ones.

Collins’ spokeswoman, Loree Anne Thompson, says Zoller’s “MAP for Prosperity” has proposals that either aren’t very specific or fresh.

“She didn’t really unveil anything new,” Thompson said.

And while Zoller released the plan this week, Collins seized the two-birds-one-stone opportunity of President Barack Obama’s support of gay marriage and North Carolina’s vote to ban it to criticize what he says is Zoller’s stance on the issue.

Collins, for the last few months, has made a point to try and define himself as the “consistent conservative” and Zoller as the Jane-come-lately on social issues.

“Unlike President Obama and my opponent, Martha Zoller, my stance on the sanctity of marriage has never swayed to achieve political gain,” Collins wrote in a letter to supporters Thursday. “I firmly believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman.”

Collins ends this letter with “God bless,” as opposed to his normal sign-off that either thanks his supporters or instructs them to “Have a great week.”

Zoller, in the platform released this week, urges passage of the federal marriage amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Mahoney calls the letter proof that Collins is “getting desperate.”

“Doug Collins is attacking her on misquotes and half-truths,” Mahoney said, adding that “Martha is against civil unions. She’s against same-sex marriage and she’s been very vocal about that.”

Thompson, on the other hand, said the campaign was just keeping up with current events.

“That is a huge issue right now ...” she said. “That was why the newsletter went out, because we think it’s important to let the people of the 9th District know that Martha Zoller does not want to go to Congress and protect the sanctity of marriage.”

This all ought to spice up the May 15 debate for the congressional candidates.

I’m told that members of the crowd will be able to ask the candidates questions.

The event is at 6:30 p.m., hosted by the South Hall Republican Club at Spout Springs library.

Go.

Ashley Fielding is the senior political reporter for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her: afielding@gainesvilletimes.com, facebook.com/ashleylfielding, @GtimesPolitics

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