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Friday February 5th, 2016 7:25PM

Collins wins GOP runoff to advance in 9th district

By Staff
GAINESVILLE - State Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville has won the Republican runoff election for a newly created congressional seat in north Georgia and will face Democrat Jody Cooley in November.

Unofficial returns Tuesday showed Collins with 54 percent of the vote, compared to 46 percent for his opponent, conservative talk radio host Martha Zoller, with 89 percent of precincts reporting.

Collins said he thinks it was his consistent conservative message that gave him the victory.

"It is what resonated with the voters, they saw the record that we have in Atlanta, and we're going to take that to Washington, and I think it's also the support we had in the district," said Collins.

Given the Republican Party's strength in the region, Collins will be a favorite to win in November.

Collins beat Zoller by less than 1 percent of the vote in last month's primary election but failed to win a majority, triggering a runoff.

Zoller, also from Gainesville, said Tuesday night that she's not sure what her future holds politically, but she said one thing is certain.

"What I will tell you is that I'm going to do what I've done for the past 16 years, which is hold elected officials accountable... that's what I've done, and that's what I'm going to continue to do," said Zoller.

The Democratic candidate in the 9th District Congressional race said voters can expect a civil discussion on the issues facing the country now that he knows which GOP candidate he'll be running against in November.

Cooley said he knows North Georgia's newly created congressional district leans heavily to the right.

"It is a Republican district, but you know what, it's made up of 550,000- 600,000 people who have real problems, so I say let's start the discussion and give people a choice," said Cooley.

Collins said he's ready to continue the campaign battle with his Democratic challenger.

"Our country is broke, it's not just a matter of degrees, it's broke... we've got to get our fiscal house in order," Collins said. "In my opinion, we've got to cut taxes and cut spending."

The following counties comprise Georgia's new 9th Congressional District:

Banks
*Clarke
Dawson
Elbert
Fannin
*Forsyth
Franklin
Gilmer
Habersham
Hall
Hart
Jackson
Lumpkin
Madison
*Pickens
Rabun
Stephens
Towns
Union
White

*Indicates that only part of the county is located in the 9th District

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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