No matter where they go, candidates Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins are met with voters angry with just about everything coming out of Washington: President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, taxes, the influence of organized labor, a deadlock on immigration policy, even the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
On a recent day, Graves, 40, was cornered at a coffee shop event by Jenny Serwitz, a 42-year-old mother who saw her real estate business dry up during the recession.
"You guys are both conservative Republicans. What's the difference?" Serwitz asked. "I'm so furious with what's going on."
Stung by the force of her words, Graves rocked back in his cowboy boots and nodded his head before pulling out his ace. He's the candidate with tea party backing.
"That's enough for me," Serwitz said.
In the race to win this conservative district, there are few policy differences between the candidates. In some respects, it's style that separates the two.
Hawkins says he's a member of the National Rifle Association. Meanwhile, Graves distributes a campaign flier showing him and his son with a shotgun.
On the issue of the $787 billion federal stimulus package, Hawkins says he would have preferred to use tax cuts instead of government spending. Graves denounces the legislation as a failed economic policy.
Hawkins, 59, has said he shares tea party concerns over government spending. Graves has been involved with the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots since early 2009 and touts the group's backing even though they are outside the congressional district.
In the May 11 special election to replace Nathan Deal, Graves won 35 percent of the vote compared to 23 percent for Hawkins in a field with eight candidates.
Since no candidate earned 50 percent of the vote plus one, a runoff was set for Tuesday. The winner will be in office mere weeks before facing a July 20 primary for the full, two-year term.
The 9th congressional district is heavily Republican and covers 15 counties in north Georgia. In the 2008 presidential race, 75 percent of voters there cast a ballot for Republican John McCain.
Graves and Hawkins bring different constituencies to the election.
Graves, a real estate developer who lives in rural Ranger, was elected to Georgia's House of Representatives in 2002. He has earned endorsements and financial backing from the anti-tax Club For Growth and FreedomWorks, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey's organization that works closely with tea party supporters.
Hawkins, a dentist, represented the Gainesville area in the Georgia Senate and has touted his reputation as a problem-solver.
"In government, philosophy is good. You need values," Hawkins said. "But at the end of the day, you need a workable plan."
Recently, Hawkins hit the campaign trail, telling voters he is the local alternative and criticizing Graves for receiving support from outside groups.
He knocked on doors in a well-heeled Hall County suburb and passed out fliers disputing a mailer from the Club For Growth over health care. The group has spent more than $10,000 to support Graves' campaign in addition to bundling donations to him from as far away as California, Tennessee, Minnesota and Rhode Island.
Hawkins knew several residents in the neighborhood because they were patients at his family's dental practice. He repeatedly asked them to call 10 friends to spread word of his candidacy.
"I don't have the money to keep up with them," Hawkins told one woman, referring to Graves and the Club For Growth. "I've been raising money in north Georgia, so I don't have the big Washington bucks."