GAINESVILLE — U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is one step closer to returning to the nation’s capital for another two-year term after defeating challenger Bernard Fontaine on Tuesday in the 9th District Republican primary.
Collins will square off against Democrat David Vogel in the general election Nov. 4. Vogel ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Collins and his family were surrounded by dozens of supporters at Luna’s restaurant in Gainesville as they watched returns come in.
The victory for Collins reinforced for him why he ran in the first place, he said, and affirmed his belief his record in Congress is worth standing on.
“This is a very conservative district,” Collins said, adding his own values and principles line up with the majority of voting constituents.
Collins said his campaign would not change between now and the general election. He said he would continue to be accessible to voters in the 9th District, which covers much of northeast Georgia, including north Forsyth, and he said he expects to hold several campaign events locally in the coming months.
Collins said votes he lost to Fontaine would not likely be lost to his Democratic challenger.
“When you go up against a liberal Democrat, Republicans in this district pull together,” he added.
Fontaine was gracious in defeat, acknowledging he was always a longshot in the race.
“I would have been a dreamer if I expected to win,” he said.“My oldest daughter was very concerned that I might lose. My wife was concerned that I might win.”
Fontaine said he was disappointed he was unable to tap into the animus many voters have for incumbents. After all, congressional approval ratings are consistently dismal.
“Better the devil you know than the one you don’t know,” was Fontaine’s way of figuring the loss.
But Fontaine said he is satisfied to have raised issues of concern that he believes Collins is not addressing.
When asked whether he would support Collins in the general election, Fontaine said, “I’ll have to give it some more consideration.”
“We appreciate Mr. Fontaine running,” Collins said, adding Fontaine had performed a civic duty.
But Collins said that whatever disfavor voters have for incumbents like him is remedied by shooting straight and being honest.
If re-elected this fall and granted one wish to change anything in Washington he wants, Collins said he would restore “fiscal sanity” by balancing the budget and setting priorities on spending.
Collins said he would work on behalf of other Republican candidates in the state this fall, particularly Gov. Nathan Deal’s re-election campaign. The two are longtime friends.
“The Carter-Nunn ticket ... is a back to the ’80s ticket ... with back to the ’80s proposals,” Collins said, referring to Democrats Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn, who are running for governor and U.S. senator, respectively.
In addition to winning, Tuesday was special in another regard for Collins.
His son voted for the first time, proudly casting a ballot for his father.
And though he’s an incumbent who has been through a number of campaigns, Collins said he never loses the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a successful race.
“When your name’s on the ballot, it’s always something special,” he said.