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GOP Pols Tap MediaSolutions for '04 Races

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ATLANTA Republican strategists have recruited MediaSolutions to handle media planning and buying for U.S. Rep. Michael "Mac" Collins, R-Ga., in his bid for the Senate seat vacated by Democrat Zell Miller.

The Atlanta shop, which worked on the 1994 campaign of Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., will also handle media duties for four other 2004 campaigns in four states, the agency said. Combined billings amount to $10 million.

The agency will work on the Republican campaign of Calder Clay of Macon, Ga., who is running for the U.S. House of Representative seat currently held by Democrat Jim Marshall. Clay has no opposition in the primary election.

In South Carolina, the shop will work with Republican Thomas Ravenel of Charleston in his bid for the U.S. Senate. The primary is June 7. Other races include U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes of North Carolina, who is completing his third term in Congress, and Ben Streussend of Houston, who is running for the House.

Pat Sibley, president of MediaSolutions, said the real work in the Collins campaign comes during the July Republican primary, when Collins must beat front-runner Johnny Isakson and Atlanta businessmen Herman Cain and Al Bartell in order to advance to the general election. The shop will work with political consultant Tom Purdue on the Collins campaign.

"It's a wide open race," said Sibley, who said her candidate has an "awareness factor" of 11 percent, compared to Isakson's 30 percent. Cain and Bartell have 3 percent, and the rest of the voters are undecided, she said.

"You buy a Republican primary differently, because you're going after a hard-core voter," said Sibley. "In a general election, you back off because everyone's out there. Independents and undecided voters become more important [to reach] because they tend to vote Republican."