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Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 11:14am

9th District Race Heats Up With Debates

The two candidates vying for Georgia’s new 9th district will have plenty of time to talk about their campaign platforms. Republican Doug Collins and Democrat Jody Cooley have four debates scheduled this month leading up to the November election. It’s a strategy that offers a public spotlight for the candidates to get their message to voters.

Democratic Challenger Jody Cooley, a long-time Gainesville attorney, acknowledges the difficulty in competing as a Democrat in one of the state’s most politically conservative districts. But he says that people across party lines are disappointed with the country’s direction—something he hopes to steer in the state’s newest congressional seat:

“I’m a 26 year business lawyer here in Gainesville. I’ve been active in civic affairs. People know I’m a serious minded person, and a serious candidate. And what I want to do is bring a common sense approach to the issues that face the country and I want to offer compromise when necessary to move the country forward.”

Doug Collins, a state Representative from Gainesville, won the GOP candidate slot after a contentious run-off in July against conservative talk show host Martha Zoller. Collins says the rhetoric of his Democratic opponent is not going to resonate with voters:

“I don’t believe that a message of raising taxes, a message of more government involvement and really looking at Obamacare as an overall positive step forward, and those are the kinds of things that really put this district, in my personal belief for this country, are just wrong directions.”

Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University says this is a chance to put Jody Cooley in the spotlight:

“This is his one real opportunity to get the attention of voters. He’s unknown, he’s under-funded and so these debates will be his main chance to get in the limelight and he’s got to be appealing to voters—he’s got to look like he’s someone who would cares about the issues facing the people of the 9th district.”

The debates between Collins and Cooley will be hosted by two North Georgia newspapers and two homeowner associations. Georgia gained the new congressional district after the 2010 census revealed a population spike in North Georgia.