Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Tea Party Vs. Establishment in Georgia District

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
State Rep. Doug Collins is facing off against conservative talk-radio host Martha Zoller for the newly created 9th district seat.

“We have a good record to tell, we have a good story to tell,” Collins said. “People want, in the end, people of principle and people to stand up for something. But also not just be able to say, ‘I’m going to do this,’ actually look back and say, ‘I have done this.’”

The tea party movement is strong in northern Georgia and will undoubtedly play a role in the race. It appears that Zoller has the early edge with those groups, having a long history with certain activists.

“Martha Zoller has been involved in the tea party movement since its inception,” said Julianne Thompson, the coordinator for Georgia Tea Party Patriots and a Zoller supporter. “She’s been at every tea party event that we have ever organized.”

Thompson said “grass-roots activists all across north Georgia are very excited about her candidacy. ... She’s one of us.”

Collins said he also has tea party support and said his values are in line with the movement.

All the dynamics at play make for a genuinely competitive field.

“I make no bones about it: This is a race,” Collins said.

“We have a long row to hoe,” Zoller agreed. “This is going to be a tough race.”

Although there may be other candidates who jump into the primary — perhaps several — Georgia strategists see this field as already set with the outsider-insider narrative of both candidates mostly defined.

“What’s really interesting about this race is both sides have positioned themselves where they want to be,” McElhannon said. “The question is: where are the voters going to be?”

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