In what may well be one of the greatest congressional upsets in Florida history, large-animal veterinarian and political newcomer Ted Yoho scored a very narrow victory over 12-term congressman Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, in one of Tuesdays most hotly contested primary races.
Stearns trailed Yoho 34 percent to 33 percent, losing by only 829 of the nearly 64,000 votes cast in the race.
The race was a four-way, with Yoho and Stearns easily taking the lead over state Sen. Steve Oelrich of Gainesville and Clay County Clerk James Jett. Despite Stearns own voting record as one of the most conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Yoho successfully positioned himself as the tea party favorite, painting Stearns as a career politician who did little to stem the tide of bipartisan big-government expansion during the course of his terms.
Yoho has pledged to serve no more than four two-year terms.
The seat, which includes 13 counties in Central Florida, was a newly drawn creation of the 10-yearly redistricting process. Yoho is expected to cruise to a very easy victory over DemocratJ.R. Gaillotin the Nov. 6 general election.
Reach Eric Giunta at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (870) 727-0895.