Updated, 12:38 a.m., 8/15/12: Although Politico initially declared Stearns the loser, the incumbent has yet to concede. But he trails Yoho by 829 votes with 100 percent of the precincts reporting.
Update II, 1:27 p.m., 8/15/12: It’s official: Stearns has conceded. Yoho will face Gaillot in November.
On Tuesday, in perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2012 cycle to date, Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns, a well-funded 12-term incumbent, lost his Republican house primary to Ted Yoho, a little-known large-animal veterinarian with no political experience. Stearns had expanded his profile over the last year by instigating a congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood, and held a 16 to 1 campaign cash advantage.
So how’d Yoho do it? Rumors of an FBI investigation into Stearns’ conduct (for allegedly bribing another candidate to get out of the race) probably had some effect. Yoho also had some tea party support, although his platform—fighting “socialism,” cutting taxes, curbing spending—didn’t really distinguish him from the competition. In the wake of Tuesday’s result, Yoho’s only television ad—in which three men in suits (representing big government) eat out of a pig trough—has been the focus of most of the press attention:
The “Pigs” ad is something of a mixed metaphor, since tea partiers’ qualm with Washington isn’t that congressmen are pork; it’s that they vote for it. For that reason, Yoho’s earlier pitch, in which he talks with an actual George W. Bush impersonator about an upcoming fundraiser, is much more effective:
If that doesn’t work, here’s a song about Yoho’s campaign—released by Yoho’s campaign:
Now that he’s won the nomination, Yoho’s path to Washington is relatively smooth. The third district is solidly Republican, and the new Democratic nominee, J.R. Gaillot, has barely updated his campaign website (the “issues” page contains mostly dead links, although Gaillot tweets that he’ll update it soon). Still, progressives can rest a little easier knowing they won’t have Cliff Stearns to kick around any more.