Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Florida tea party favorite appears to take down 12-term GOP politician

Twelve-term Rep. Cliff Stearns trails his Republican primary opponent in Florida with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

Tea partyer Ted Yoho, a veterinarian and political newcomer, leads Stearns by 829 votes in a shocking upset, the Associated Press reported. Redistricting forced Stearns into a geographically larger, newly drawn district stretching north and west of his old territory, into Florida's panhandle.

One of Stearns' opponents, Clay County Clerk of Courts James Jett, alleged in March that Stearns had attempted to bribe him out of the race through a middleman. A Stearns spokesman denied the accusation. Jett ranks fourth in the unexpectedly crowded primary with 14 percent.

The winner of tea-party straw polls in Gainesville, Gilchrist and Lake City, Yoho ran a TV ad comparing career politicians to pigs in slop, promising new leadership and a repeal of "Obamacare." He recorded a YouTube video with a George W. Bush impersonator in which they bemoaned the Obama administration.

If results hold, Stearns will exit Congress after serving for 24 years. He made headlines as top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations subcommittee with investigations into solar-panel maker Solyndra and steroid use in pro wrestling.

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