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Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 11:50am

Radio Host Bids For Congress

A conservative radio show host from Gainesville filed paperwork Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission to run for Georgia's new congressional seat.

Martha Zoller said, through a spokesman Wednesday, she will remain on the air until next spring when she qualifies as a candidate with Georgia officials. Zoller hosts a daily talk radio show on WXKT-FM, owned by Cox Radio, and is syndicated across Georgia.

Ryan Mahoney, a spokesman for Zoller, said she was told by Cox lawyers she may continue to broadcast until she qualifies to run.

A spokeswoman for Cox did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Federal Communications Commission "equal time" rules require TV and radio stations to provide equal coverage to any opposing political candidate that asks for it.

But Jack N. Goodman, a Washington-based lawyer who represented the National Association of Broadcasters, said that provision does not kick in until the candidate is officially on the ballot, which would happen when she qualifies.

"This is pretty straightforward and clear," Goodman said.

Zoller said Wednesday her broadcasting career has prepared her for Capitol Hill.

"I have been involved in radio for 15 years now, not just giving my opinion, but helping my listeners analyze the critical issues of the day. Most importantly, I have given people a chance to be heard," she said.

She'll face Republican state Rep. Doug Collins, of Gainesville, who said last week he will also run for the new seat in northeast Georgia.

Collins, a lawyer and former U.S. Air Force chaplain, was a floor leader for Gov. Nathan Deal. He helped the governor usher through an overhaul of the HOPE scholarship earlier this year.

The Collins camp had no comment on the development Wednesday.

Georgia gained a new U.S. House seat due to its growing population. The State Legislature has approved the new congressional map. Under the Voting Rights Act, either the U.S. Department of Justice or the federal courts need to also sign off on the plan.