Cliff Stearns seemed destined to cruise to another term in Congress with the Republican primary against Tea Party favorite Ted Yoho just a speed bump on the way to victory in November.
That speed bump just flattened Cliff Stearns.
The veteran Republican conceded victory one day after the primary contest, with Yoho beating Cliff Stearns by a little more than 800 votes, the Los Angeles Times reported. Stearns had won 12 consecutive terms to represent the Gainesville, Florida area in Congress. This year his district had been re-drawn to make the district itself larger, so it now includes areas Stearns had never represented before.
Yoho has never held elected office but joins a line of Tea Party members to knock off incumbent Republicans. He now moves on to face Democrat J.R. Gaillot, a local businessman.
Cliff Stearns never appeared to see the threat from Yoho as credible. The incumbent finished the race with more than $2 million on campaign funds he was apparently saving for the general election, and he appeared to cruise on the profile gained from his lead role in investigations of the collapse of solar company Solyndra Inc. as well as looking into federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
Cliff Stearns released a message congratulating Yoho, but the sting of disappointment seemed to show through his words. He said:
“I am disappointed that I won’t be able to continue my investigations of the Obama administration such as the risky loan guarantee to Solyndra and holding Planned Parenthood accountable to the taxpayers. There is so much left to do in conducting oversight over the White House and the president’s growing expansion of government into our lives.”
Though the result was a shock for nearly everyone outside of Ted Yoho; there were some signs that Cliff Stearns was vulnerable. As CFNews13.com pointed out, he gained notoriety for proposing an amendment to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act that would have required first responders to be checked on the terrorist watch list if they wanted to submit compensation claims.