Mountain vs. tea party, Zell Miller vs. Sarah Palin

Icons, it seems, are made for smashing. Or at least discarding.

Eight years after he became a GOP hero — especially in Georgia — for breaking ranks with his fellow Democrats and advocating a second term for President George W. Bush, Zell Miller stands an even chance of being deposed.

By the likes of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum, no less.

The Republican race for the new 9th Congressional District in North Georgia, drawn to be the most conservative in the state, has become a blistering mountain-vs.-tea party affair.

The 80-year-old former Georgia governor and U.S. senator from Young Harris stands behind state Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville. “I felt I had a mountain relationship with him,” Miller said.

But that quartet of cable TV veterans, all popular preachers on the tea party circuit, has endorsed Martha Zoller, a former talk radio host in Gainesville. “Martha is running against the establishment, which, as we know, is an uphill battle,” Palin wrote in her endorsement.

Which means Zell Miller, the most revolutionary man at the 2004 Republican National Convention, has become something of a Tory to some Republicans.

Call this a tight race between North Georgia insularity and tea party-driven suspicion of anyone who lists a public office on his resume. Last week, out of 109,778 votes cast, only 738 ballots separated the front-runner Collins from Zoller.

Because the new district is presumed to be a Republican gain (though Democrat Jody Cooley awaits in November), money hasn’t been a major factor. No super PAC has emptied its wallet into the 9th. Zoller has raised at least $29,000 since the July 31 primary. Collins has raised at least $40,000 — including $5,000 from Miller and his wife, Shirley, and $1,000 from House Speaker David Ralston.

But given that the region is dominated largely by metro Atlanta television stations, an extensive TV campaign is cost-prohibitive for both camps — though both candidates have cut aggressive 30-second spots for their final pushes.

The cash-strapped nature of the fight has made endorsements, a natural topic for direct-mail and word-of-mouth campaigning, even more important.

Zoller’s stamps of approval are largely the result of a 15-year career in talk radio, with occasional bouts of commentary on CNN and Fox News. Years on the airwaves, and the connections that result, have made Zoller competitive in a race that would normally be an easy win for the candidate who is backed by the House speaker — and who acted as a floor leader for a sitting governor.

Gingrich and Santorum are unlikely to appear by Zoller’s side before the runoff. The Zoller campaign has hopes that Cain and Palin might. Of the pair, Palin is clearly the bigger fish — although the former Alaskan governor’s four-candidate winning streak of endorsements ended Tuesday when state Treasurer Sarah Steelman placed third in Missouri’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

On Aug. 21, Zoller becomes the next Palin candidate up for voter inspection.

The Zoller campaign has attempted to turn her opponent’s past as a state lawmaker into a liability — most recently pointing to his vote to place transportation sales tax referendums on Georgia ballots.

“Would someone who is ‘for the people’ of north Georgia have stuck us with a 300-percent local penalty because we would not listen to the Gold Domers and silently approve their T-SPLOST fiasco?” the Zoller campaign asks in one email blast.

Collins has also engaged in jujitsu, attempting to besmirch Zoller’s high-ranking endorsements. “We saw her Obama-style campaign strategy of celebrity over substance during the primary,” Collins declared. “I’m here to tell her she can’t hide behind her big-name friends.”

Clearly, Collins is attempting to tap that historic mountain antipathy toward pushy strangers. “It’s a way of life. It’s a personality. Mountain people are very conservative, but they don’t like people coming here to tell them how to vote,” said Bryan Miller, Collins’ campaign manager — and Zell Miller’s grandson.

Zell Miller, though somewhat subdued by a three-year bout of ill health, has recorded robo-call messages for Collins — as Palin has for Zoller. He’ll step up his role, if possible, over the next 12 days, Bryan Miller said.

But the former Georgia governor isn’t the only Republican-feted institution under siege in this contest.
The Collins campaign has, in a way, taken aim at talk radio itself. “For years, Martha Zoller has talked while you could only cringe,” Collins’ most recent TV ad declares.

The overwhelming visual is of a woman’s lipsticked mouth at a microphone — while a narrator wonders at Zoller’s alleged apostasy on topics from marijuana to civil unions to the simple, terrible admission that President Barack Obama might be a nice guy.

“At the end of the day, we don’t care what they say about talk radio or about Martha’s endorsements,” Zoller spokesman Ryan Mahoney said. “The people are very clear that they’re sick of the establishment and they want someone new in Washington that’s going to shake things up.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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49 comments Add your comment

Jeff A. Taylor

August 8th, 2012
6:15 pm

Jim, could it possibly — just possibly — be that Zoller’s “stamps of approval” are NOT being a member of the legal cartel, NOT being a supporter of an $8b. regressive wealth transfer from working citizens to wired developers/Realtors/builders/consultants/Chamber shills, NOT running on a positively feudal mindset which holds that family relationships, rather than the good of the republic and civil society, should define the range of the possible for public policy?

Icons are not just for smashing — they are for the superstitious and fearful.

Newt is nuts

August 8th, 2012
6:31 pm

Zell versus Newt, or as it could be called, Two Fly Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

cc

August 8th, 2012
6:33 pm

““I felt I had a mountain relationship with him,” Miller said.”

I have heard of a ‘close relationship’, an ‘intimate relationship’, a ‘casual relationship’, a ‘committed relationship’, an ‘open relationship’ and even a ‘one-night stand’. For the life of me, I don’t understand the term ‘mountain relationship’.

Is Zig-Zag kinky?

GaBlue

August 8th, 2012
6:42 pm

td

August 8th, 2012
6:46 pm

Martha would be a better choice in this race because she would be a good conservative woman that can handle herself very well with the press.

Eric

August 8th, 2012
6:53 pm

td-once again, a gd genius. You’ve missed your calling, son. And your moniker. Come on back now, ya’ hear?

tv

August 8th, 2012
6:58 pm

Collins statement :”“We saw her Obama-style campaign strategy of celebrity over substance during the primary,” Collins declared. “I’m here to tell her she can’t hide behind her big-name friends.” is a POOR attempt to misguide voters.

Zoller’s campaign has been all about substance. Take the time to read her MAP for PROSPERITY : http://marthaforcongress.com/wp-content/uploads/MAP_for_Prosperity.pdf

She is clearly the candidate with a plan to make a difference.

double

August 8th, 2012
7:05 pm

Eric—-that is Ya’ll be coming back now ya’hear.

findog

August 8th, 2012
7:08 pm

Martha! all talk and no real accomplishments.
Why trust a permeneant position to someone who has never produced anything more than some kids and noise.

jd

August 8th, 2012
7:13 pm

So, if Zoller is elected, and she votes against popular wishes, will she remember we have a republic (where our elected representatives are supposed to make decisions, and not create faux public referendums like t-splost) and not a direct democracy?

hiram

August 8th, 2012
7:42 pm

“Mountain people are very conservative, but they don’t like people coming here to tell them how to vote,” said Bryan Miller, Collins’ campaign manager — and Zell Miller’s grandson.”

That’s an interesting statement from the grandson of the person most responsible for the “people coming up here.” Zell paved the way, literally, for the total transformation of the NE Georgia mountains.

hiram

August 8th, 2012
7:58 pm

The N Ga mountains have been mutilated beyond recognition – the trees on the once pristine mountain ridges have been replaced with red metal roofs, and lawns with pink flamingos – all for a buck.

Cooley is better!

August 8th, 2012
8:29 pm

The GOP gives a choice between crazy and crazier – maybe Jody Cooley can get a look in November – http://www.cooleyforcongress.com.

td

August 8th, 2012
8:52 pm

Cooley is better!

August 8th, 2012
8:29 pm

You are seriously dreaming my friend. A Democrat has about as much of a chance to win this district as a Republican has to win in Atlanta.

Hillbilly D

August 8th, 2012
9:08 pm

Y’all is a contraction for you all, although in the mountains it’s more likely to be you’ns than y’all. Ya’ll has the apostrophe in the wrong place.

Don’t really care for either candidate, judging from the company they seem to be keeping.

Kris

August 8th, 2012
9:08 pm

Well Said Cutty!

Just when the air smells better after tsplost, somebody digs up Zig Zag
Paddle faster the banjo music is getting louder….

I would vote for the Democrat….just sayin.

double

August 8th, 2012
9:47 pm

Someone need to check on TD.Make sure he’s ok.Could be someone hijacking his name.

Living in the 9th and paying attention

August 8th, 2012
9:51 pm

The choice is easy, Martha all the way.

southern white boy

August 8th, 2012
10:00 pm

tv: it is really sad if you truly think that Martha’s MAP for prosperity is about substance. is it nothing but simpleminded slogans that do not consitute serious policy or answers to the country’s problems. regretably, it is like most talk radio: lacking both substance and nuance. has she had one original thought?

Living in the 9th and paying attention

August 8th, 2012
10:14 pm

southern white boy,
You are probably nether, nor are you from the 9th, for sure.
Some of Martha`s ideas (in her Road Map to Prosperity) may not be her ideas but that does not mean they are bad ideas.

*Accountability
*Reform
*Citizen Engagement

All of that is right out of The Tea Party playbook.
My guess is , establishment types really dislike grassroots movements, when they propose REAL hope and change.

Bernie

August 8th, 2012
10:29 pm

Jim, did you hear how the fall out from the lovely Karen Handel is still being felt to this day at Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Today’s victim is the founder and CEO Nancy Brinker.

I am sure she is thinking saying, thanks a Lot …..Karen!

and The Georgia Republicans have chosen Karen as a talent scout, go figure!

southern white boy

August 8th, 2012
10:52 pm

you are right. living in the 9th, i dont live in the 9th, but you are wrong, i am both white and southern and have been my whole life. but i dont think sloganeering constitutes either a policy platform or a grassroot movement. if that is the best she has to offer, that isnt much. i happen to like and respect independent thought, and i dont see ms martha offering any such thing.

Mountain Cracker

August 8th, 2012
11:01 pm

Zell and these conservatives are just playing to the ignorance and prejudice that keeps the Appalachian region exploited. Why don’t real issues like environmental protection and enforcement and transportation and education get on the front burner. Let’s look at the Zell/GOP record:

As the natives who go outdoors understand, we only have the water that the rains give us–there aren’t big rivers flowing through the mountains, the water starts here. It needs and EPD and and EPA that will protect it–not a GOP that wants to privatize and pollute our waters.

That our water is limited will come as news to some of these conservatives who don’t understand that the government waters of Army Corp of Engineers and utility monopoly Georgia Power lakes are very limited. If we drain all of Lake Lanier for Metro Atlanta, as some would have it, then some mighty big power plants that need cooling water, including Nuclear Plant Farley, go off-line, and electric rates go way up..

As to transportation, there were electric trollies until the early ’60s in North Georgia (Athens, Gainesville, Rome…) and busses ran until the mid-70s. Zell gave us four lanes to nowhere, unless Young Harris (home of the college with our secretary of state that gave us paperless untraceable voting) . And if the socialist [state park] golf course at Young Harris counts as economic development, another of the state’s loss-leader golf park convention centers, then we’re in trouble. Buys a lot of pesticides, though.

And as to education–selling lottery tickets so high-scoring rich urban kids who have AP classes in their schools can go to UGA and Tech free isn’t a winning program for getting education and literacy and skills to a level that brings employment to the 9th District. So tha’s a Fail for Zell and the GOP, too. And it will only get worse with charter schools and vouchers–a path to taxing all to pay for private schooling for the rich.

Zell and these GOP elites are a scourge. They’re only out for their ilk. Can’t the corporations find better candidates to shill for them?

Cooley is better!

August 8th, 2012
11:36 pm

td – that’s the problem – voting for that little (r) instead of the person. You’re dreaming if you think Martha will do anything for the 9th in Congress – Jody Cooley is the only sensible choice because he cares about everyone – not just a percentage. Mountain Cracker has it right – education is a key for the 9th to prosper, and Martha would gut it in the name of lower taxes.

The GOP is pushing snake oil on you. I don’t suggest you drink it.

innerjuju

August 8th, 2012
11:47 pm

Martha has no credentials or experience in anything but talk radio. A female Rush Limbaugh who is quick to point out the mistakes of others while never having operated a business or any type of legal/political experience of her own. THIS is the Tea Party’s champion? All talk, no substance.

yuzeyurbrane

August 9th, 2012
12:04 am

Both candidates are awful. But Zell Miller’s involvement is just pathetic. I can envision a lonely embittered old man just wondering why most people don’t listen to him anymore. Or worse, a generation that doesn’t even know who he is. Poetic justice for a truly deserving traitor.

double

August 9th, 2012
2:08 am

Yes we need more lawyers,more of the same old same to represent us.Less legal/political experience could be what we need.Not a hand picked,establishment candidate.

El Kabong

August 9th, 2012
2:59 am

“The people are very clear that they’re sick of the establishment and they want someone new in Washington that’s going to shake things up.”-This statement is doublethink straight from Big Brother in 1984. Anyone that votes for an R or a D can have any real interest in shaking things up. Both parties are just different claws on the hand of the oligarchy the runs the US. I live in this district and the choices for national legislator make me want to flee…

El Kabong

August 9th, 2012
3:04 am

“The people are very clear that they’re sick of the establishment and they want someone new in Washington that’s going to shake things up.”-This statement is doublethink straight from Big Brother in 1984. Anyone that votes for an R or a D can’t have any real interest in shaking things up. Both parties are just different claws on the hand of the oligarchy the runs the US. I live in this district and the choices for national legislator make me want to flee…

BitterEXdemocrackkk

August 9th, 2012
4:33 am

Martha Zoller looks like the best choice by far! Never vote for the ‘establishment’ candidate again…

Edmund Ruffin

August 9th, 2012
7:19 am

Zoller is endorsed by Republicans, Collins (the establishment candidate) is endorsed by a democrat. What do you think? It is an easy choice for me, I’ll go with the less taxes, less government Zoller rather than the big government neo-con.

[...] Mountain vs. tea party, Zell Miller vs. Sarah PalinAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The Republican race for the new 9th Congressional District in North Georgia, drawn to be the most conservative in the state, has become a blistering mountain-vs.-tea party affair. The 80-year-old former Georgia governor and U.S. senator from Young … [...]

legionaire

August 9th, 2012
8:24 am

Mountaineers may not want an outsider in their mist but they are not stupid. They understand the stakes involved in every election this cycle. The Teaparty has bought the country time by stopping the Pelosi machine in 2010. Can you imagine if that cycle had the Teaparty not swept out RINOs and liberal democrats in the House? Palin is just the voice of the Teaparty and is a savvy politician in her own right. She would not risk a loss on a dead head and mountaineers understand that,

Keep doing this GOP

August 9th, 2012
8:25 am

I agree with Mountain Cracker. All of these people who are going or who wants us to vote GOP , come take a look at what GOP leadership has done for the area. Not just in Washington , but in Atlanta as well. The region has almost 10% unemployment. Almost a quarter of the citizens are dependent on some sort of government aid. And dont get me started on education and health care. Our little county alone took a 3.4 million dollar cut in our education budget. Thats a lot of money for a small county when you dont have the tax base. How do you improve the tax base? Through education and infrastructure, the two areas the GOP are cutting.

Darwin

August 9th, 2012
8:34 am

The 9th District. Chickens unite! Less work and better pay!

Darwin

August 9th, 2012
8:52 am

“I’ll go with the less taxes, less government Zoller rather than the big government neo-con.”

Really? A rural area where most of the people are too poor to even pay taxes. It’s a region (along with most of Appalachia) that could really use some help. Oh well. Keep ‘em poor and stupid, that’s what I say.

retiree

August 9th, 2012
9:07 am

Jim, I dare say that you are doing all possible to elect Ms. Zoller, Let’s have some objective reporting as this run-off approaches.

Attack Dog

August 9th, 2012
9:10 am

A tea party spokesman said they have a plan to balance the budget and reduce the debt in five years. Someone should tell him that it is mathematically impossible. Remember Dixiecrats, you must have a surplus to reduce the debt.

td

August 9th, 2012
9:12 am

retiree

August 9th, 2012
9:07 am

And what is wrong with Martha? I have been watching her for years on the “Georgia gang” and she seems like a very well informed person and appears to get along with libs, like Jim, when she is on the show.

[...] via Political Insider. [...]

PMC

August 9th, 2012
9:36 am

All these people involved and someone brought up “anti establishment”

Ha.

Michael #1

August 9th, 2012
9:39 am

And TD says,”She would be better with the press.” High standards for your choices TD.

sansho1

August 9th, 2012
9:53 am

Hillbilly D,

The original spelling was ya’ll — it began as a Bayou contraction of “ya all”. But my phone corrects to “y’all”, so I guess that means the battle is lost….

Chanel

August 9th, 2012
10:04 am

Being a resident of Union County, makes me a mountain person. However, I like to think outside the “mountain” box. I find myself constantly changing the local radio station or just turning it off when I hear the advertising for Doug. It makes me throw up a little in the back of my throat to realize that he is a typical, white, christian male Republican. The only thing they advertise for him is the fact he can’t keep his religion out of my home, marriage or my uterus. And that woman’s voice they use, like nails on the chalkboard. Sorry Doug, but I have to pass…. bet advice i can give to the other candidate, RUN FROM PALIN….. for someone who doesn’t like the media, she sure likes being in the middle of it.

Chanel

August 9th, 2012
10:07 am

@ Darwin, bite me. I grew up here, graduated from high school and have had my current job for over 21 years. I read books without pictures and speak Latin. ….Grow up……

Right

August 9th, 2012
11:54 am

Chanel….you rock…I like your style

Billy

August 9th, 2012
12:21 pm

Zell was a joke before he joined the US Senate. Now that his career is over, he converts to Christianity. Better late than never, but I wish he would have done this much, much earlier. He gave his best years to the Dimsters, who have dispoiled this country in every category. Don’t wait until you’re 90 years old to join the team, friends. You’ll won’t have much to greet you on the other side, no joke about that whatsoever…
As far as Palin goes, she could not be a more UNserious conservative. She showed up the other day for the losing candidate in the MO US Senate race wearing a pole dancer’s outfit: tight capri pants with an ever tighter T-shirt. Sure, it’s almost as fun as watching those G-String bimbos play Olympic volleyball, but to wear this to a political event. I’d hate for one of the Kardashians to be more appropriately dressed than I was. She’s a clown: I’m glad she inspires men with junior high school hormones and simple people, but we need someone who can be respected by all conservatives, and this person is the last one on this planet that would appeal to me past her figure. We conservatives have the right answers to the issues. Let’s not blow it on spokespeople like Palin that invite ridicule without offering a serious image that can be truly respected. Surely, the conservative movement can put forward better people than Palin…

Darwin

August 9th, 2012
12:56 pm

@ Chanel — Darwin, bite me. I grew up here, graduated from high school and have had my current job for over 21 years. I read books without pictures and speak Latin. ….Grow up……

Pig Latin ain’t count.

Bigboy

August 9th, 2012
8:13 pm

Why is Sarah Palin relevant?