Originally created 07/22/98

Coles leading early in Senate primary



ATLANTA -- Millionaire businessman Michael Coles battled little-known candidate Jim Boyd in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, preceding an expected showdown between Mr. Coles and Republican Paul Coverdell.

Mr. Coles, who lost to House Speaker Newt Gingrich two years ago, held a commanding lead over Mr. Boyd in polls heading into Tuesday's primary.

With 82 of 2,751 precincts -- or 3 percent -- reporting Tuesday night, Mr. Coles had 6,978 votes, or 68 percent, while Mr. Boyd had 3,228 votes, or 32 percent.

Mr. Coles, 58, made his fortune as the co-founder of the Great American Cookie Co. The Kennesaw resident ran against Mr. Gingrich in 1996, spending $2.4 million of his own money.

He has raised more than $1 million for his current campaign, including $500,000 from a private luncheon featuring President Clinton earlier this month.

That $500,000 helped pay for an aggressive TV presence that featured an ad highlighting Mr. Coles' cross-country bicycling record.

Mr. Boyd is a 63-year-old Alpharetta businessman who has run unsuccessfully for five different offices since 1966.

In addition to Mr. Coverdell and the Democratic nominee, Libertarian Bert Loftman of Atlanta will be the on the general election ballot in November.