Politics

Move Over, Buffy! Ted Yoho Looks Like a Vampire Slayer

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: July 18, 2014 3:55 AM
Ted Yoho and Jake Rush

Ted Yoho and Jake Rush

His name isn’t Buffy, but Ted Yoho looks like a vampire slayer. 

Yoho pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Florida politics when he beat Cliff Stearns in the Republican primary back in 2012. But Yoho only beat Stearns by 829 votes and 66 percent of Republicans didn’t vote for him in the primary. Yoho refused to vote for John Boehner for speaker of the House, made nice with Rand Paul instead of presidential hopefuls from Florida like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, and often breaks with the GOP on foreign affairs. Add in a few gaffes on Yoho’s end and the chances of beating him in the primary were at least plausible. Certainly, the Republican establishment had plenty of reasons to want to knock Yoho off and could have lined up against him.

Enter Jake Rush, an attorney who served as a deputy for the Alachua County sheriff’s office. Rush wasn’t exactly the ideal choice for the establishment to rally behind since he came from Gainesville, Yoho’s backyard. Yoho would have been more threatened by an opponent from Clay County -- where 40 percent of the district lives -- who had military ties. Clay County Republicans have a different take on foreign policy than Yoho and Paul do. It’s why Newt Gingrich, of all people, carried Clay County back in the 2012 primary.

Rush got in the race back in February and started off with a bang, with around $158,500 in contributions in the first six weeks of his campaign and kicking in $43,100 of his own money during that time. Yoho proved against Stearns that a little money can go a long way in the largely rural North Florida district. It appeared Rush was shaping up as a threat to the congressman.

Then it all fell apart for Rush. Photos emerged of Rush’s role-playing hobby which ranged from laughable photos of the candidate co-playing as a superhero to various vampire costumes and even incorporating some sinister elements, including Rush’s comment about “putting on my rape face.”

All of a sudden, Rush went from contender to pretender against Yoho. After the news about Rush's role-playing -- and more importantly the photos -- went public in April, all momentum was sucked out of his campaign. Rush never quite knew what to do about how to handle the negative publicity. Sometimes, Rush embraced it, proudly claiming he was a geek and even appearing on Stephen Colbert’s show to weigh in on it. Other times, Rush said the Yoho camp was behind it as a dirty trick.

Needless to say, Rush lost all traction with fundraising. He raised around $15,000 in the second quarter of 2014, less than a tenth of what he had done in the month and a half before the news broke. Rush had to rely on around an extra $36,800 he loaned his campaign. Whatever misgivings the Republican establishment has about Yoho, they’re certainly not going to put their chips behind a vampire role-player.

Over the last few weeks, Rush has tried to get his groove back by attacking Yoho on everything ranging from voter rights to foreign policy. Rush also called out Tyler Yoho, the congressman’s son, getting a congressional internship despite some past problems with the law. This week, Tyler Yoho apparently had enough and called on Rush to stop bringing him up. Rush released a public letter in which he said Tyler Yoho only got the position because his dad was a congressman.

Somehow, Rush bungled the open letter and his campaign team did a major disservice to their candidate by not doing a good job of editing it. Rush advised Tyler Yoho to delete his Facebook account. Of course, Rush tried to scrub all the various embarrassing photos.

“If you've seen the false hype that your father's ‘Dark Lord of Florida Politics’ smear team generated off of a photograph of me acting for charity, imagine what an employer might think of your public Facebook,” Rush advised Tyler Yoho, somehow missing the irony that he went on Comedy Central to talk about his role-playing.

Even worse, Rush fell into the trap of making vampire references. “Dark Lord” is a term often associated with the legendary vampire Dracula, most notably in the popular “Castlevania” video game series by Konami. The close was just as bad. “Feelings of immortality are expected in young adults; they are misplaced in freshman congressmen,” Rush wrote, oblivious to feelings of immortality also being expected in vampires.

Though he tried to score a few points off the congressman in the letter, Rush should have kept his fire on Yoho instead of going after his son. At the very least, Rush’s campaign team should have kept advising Tyler Yoho on Facebook, and words like “Dark Lord” and “immortality” out of the letter altogether. Rush has less than six weeks to go until the primary. Getting into a squabble with Tyler Yoho only wastes time. Rush needs much more than that if he is going to turn it around.

Rush had $158,337 in the bank at the end of June, far behind Yoho’s $455,805. While he has some radio spots already lined up and continues to go on the attack, Rush’s weak second-quarter fundraising should seal his fate.

Despite his campaign becoming something of a punchline, Rush could have been a contender had he played his cards right. Instead, Ted Yoho looks ready to drive a stake through Rush’s electoral ambitions.



Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (11)

Joseph H.
12:54PM AUG 9TH 2014
Rush is definitely not a "liberal plant." He's very conservative, but I suppose the better GOP option for this district. Neither candidate, however, is as intelligent, thoughtful or reasonable as Marihelen Wheeler. Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, it's important to learn about all candidates. Visit her website (wheelerforflorida3) to learn more about this educator and long-time Florida resident.
Ken Willey
5:37PM JUL 22ND 2014
I'm convinced Rush is a liberal plant to draw Yoho into a mud slinging match. Rush has almost no positions, and says almost nothing that isn't an attack that came from MSNBC or a far left website. He can drag Yoho's name through the mud so the Democrat can keep her campaign, and hands, clean.
Lee
3:43PM JUL 22ND 2014
I've listen to Jake in a interview and the guy didn't know Obamacare was mandatory and argued with the host about a federal law. (The host bailed him out)

Yoho history is very easy to read from the .gov website, I have no questions for him. The other candidates have no money to run an effective campaign.

Yoho will take this race with over 70% of the votes
Lee
3:43PM JUL 22ND 2014
I've listen to Jake in a interview and the guy didn't know Obamacare was mandatory and argued with the host about a federal law. (The host bailed him out)

Yoho history is very easy to read from the .gov website, I have no questions for him. The other candidates have no money to run an effective campaign.

Yoho will take this race with over 70% of the votes
Lee
3:43PM JUL 22ND 2014
I've listen to Jake in a interview and the guy didn't know Obamacare was mandatory and argued with the host about a federal law. (The host bailed him out)

Yoho history is very easy to read from the .gov website, I have no questions for him. The other candidates have no money to run an effective campaign.

Yoho will take this race with over 70% of the votes
watching the game
10:11AM JUL 19TH 2014
So Ted Yoho's vampire smear and throwing his son in to the debate has won him the election? If true, that's a sad commentary on today's GOP.... and the voters. Just lie and hide behind your family if you want to win!

I'd rather see the honest guy, no matter how little money he has.
lets see
5:32PM JUL 18TH 2014
Jim Jett and ethical Caly County former commissioner and Clerk of the Court qualified to run against Stearns. Two henchmen offered him bribes and was recorded by the FBI doing so. They were Jeb Bush's Lt Jim Horne and a Clay County businessman named Sapp. The FBI set Jim Jett up to be wired for the take down. Then they backed out and even refused to release their report to Jett himself. Cliff Stearns got beat by Ted Yoho.

Same thing happened to Bill McCollum. He thought he was a sho in. Jim Greer and the RPOF had a big meeting in Orlando and announced there would be no governor's primary in 2010 the RPOF could not afford it. then along come Dallas Texas Bush family lawyer Rick Scott with $70 million of Medicare Fraud funds and they threw Bill McCollum under the bus.

So, how do you know if you are safe with these king makers? I mean is there a union for politicians who just don't seem to dance to their drummers fast enough of what?
isaac everett
3:26PM JUL 18TH 2014
It doesn't look to me like Rush is going after Yoho's family - rather, it looks like he's going after Yoho himself for securing a prestigious gig for his son through obvious nepotism. Yoho sending his son at Rush instead of engaging him directly also rubs me the wrong way.

How about instead of open letters from family members, we see an actual debate in this election? I'd be much more interested in seeing Rush and Yoho debate the issues than hearing more about roleplaying games and Tyler's drunken spats with the police.
Sandi Trusso
8:56AM JUL 18TH 2014
I didn't vote for Ted Yoho, but I've been happy with most of his voting record. However, I am very unhappy with the personal attacks against him, made by his opponent, Jake Rush. If you disagree with Yoho's political principals, or voting record that's fine, but when you go after his family, and I've seen other things attacking him personally (unless you show arrest records, or something equally as horrible), that's disgusting and beneath a candidate and/or a person who aspires to take his seat in Congress! You've lost my vote, Mr. Rush.
Michael
7:28AM JUL 18TH 2014
The good news after this circus is over with there is a choice for responsible representation in the November election, Marianne Wheeler. Get Yoho the Bobo back with his family.
Michael
8:51AM JUL 18TH 2014
Marihelen Wheeler.

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