Posted: Monday, August 13th 2012 at 9:56pm
Collins, Zoller charge down the home stretch
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – With only one week left to convince voters that they deserve to be the Republican candidate for Georgia’s newly created 9th U.S. Congressional district, Martha Zoller and Doug Collins traded barbs at Monday night’s moderated debate at the Gainesville Civic Center.
Supporters cheered or squirmed in their seats depending upon whether their favorite scored a perceived advantage or not. Definitely, political campaign debates are not for the thin-skinned.
Collins has a documented voting record which he has established during his three terms as a state representative, something to which Zoller referred frequently.
Zoller has a long history expressing her political opinions and positions as a radio talk show host, something to which Collins referred frequently…even using his cell phone at one point to play an audio sound bite into the microphone to underscore his argument.
Moderator John Clark, Affiliate Relations Director for the Georgia News Network, kept the debate moving and the emotions under control.
Clark began the debate by asking each candidate to list their top three platform issues. Zoller listed spending, jobs, and taxes. Collins listed spending, Obama-care, and taxes.
Those lists are similar and their positions on those issues are also fairly similar, so the challenge to show voters a difference between themselves and their opponent at times became somewhat personal.
Nevertheless, this was not the first time the candidates had faced one another. Both Zoller and Collins were able to maintain their composure better than some of their supporters who alternately cheered and grimaced.
During the second segment of the debate each candidate was allowed to ask their opponent three questions. President Reagan, TSPLOST, civil unions, and taxes were included in those queries as there was no shortage of verbal “saltiness” in the chosen wording of those questions.
During the third segment Moderator Clark asked each candidate six questions.
Clark asked for their positions on the current farm subsidy bill, upcoming military cuts, term limits, how they would avoid succumbing to the "DC mentality" that besets so many of those in office, how they hoped to win voters who had selected Roger Fitzpatrick in the July 31st primary, and if they would support their opponent should they lose the August 21st run-off.
Clark mentioned during his questioning that as far as he knew, Fitzpatrick had endorsed neither Zoller nor Collins.
Standing in the rear of the room Fitzpatrick said with a laugh, "You’ll notice where I am standing." Fitzpatrick, arms crossed, was firmly planted in the dead-center of the aisle that separated the Collins supporters from the Zoller supporters.
The run-off is set for Tuesday, August 21.
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