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Georgia 9: Collins, Zoller head to runoff

With no clear winner Tuesday, State Rep. Doug Collins and radio talk show host Martha Zoller now head for a runoff Aug. 21 in the newly-carved 9th House District.

The most rancorous, hardest-fought, and most-watched Republican primary in Georgia ended with no clear winner Tuesday, as State Rep. Doug Collins and radio talk show host Martha Zoller now head for a runoff Aug. 21 in the newly-carved 9th U.S. House District. With about half the votes counted, Collins was leading Zoller by a slim 41.9 to 41.3 percent, with retired educator Roger Fitzpatrick drawing about 16.9 percent of the vote. Since no candidate won 51 percent, the top two votegetters compete in a runoff to determine the GOP nomination in the securely Republican 9th District.

Much of the press attention on the 9th stemmed from Zoller herself, a nationally-known conservative â??swashbuckler.â? In the race with Collins and Fitzpatrick, the candidate known as the â??First Lady of Talk Radioâ? or just â??The Ladyâ? was backed by Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Georgia Right to Life. Zoller was also backed by national conservative outlets such as the Susan B. Anthony List and SHE-PAC.

Collins never conceded anything on the right to Zoller. His spokeswoman Loree Anne Thompson told Human Events the day before the primary that â??Doug compiled a conservative record in his six years in the state legislature and stands by every vote. And he was supported by the National Rifle Association.”

The only two issues on which Colllins and Zoller disagreed were term limits — Collins against, Zoller for — and Collinsâ?? vote to place a sales tax increase for transportation improvement on the ballot, which, he emphasized,was about the voters having their say and not a sign he favored the tax.

In the final days of the race, Collins was undoubtedly helped by a Website from his supporters showing clips of Zoller on television talk shows appearing to take non-conservative views on such issues as civil unions for same-sex couples and marijuana legalization and branding her â??zany.â? Zoller told Human Events this was â??grossly unfair,â? that â??as a talk show host, I sometimes had to take devilâ??s advocate views in interviews with guests and they certainly did not represent my views.â? Collinsâ?? spokeswoman Thompson said the campaign stood by the website.

As a legislator, Collins was Gov. Nathan Dealâ??s quarterback on major issues before the State House. This no doubt helped him in a district where Deal was a popular congressman for many years before becoming governor in 2010. He also raised about $400,000 to Zollerâ??s $270,000.

As to who will win the Collins-Zoller showdown, itâ??s uncertain. No one knows what the turnout will be like in August. But if the primary was any clue, the final stage of the nomination battle is sure to be a rough-and-tumble brawl.

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com