The House Republican who led investigations into Solyndra and Planned Parenthood could see his quarter-century career come to a crashing halt, after he was shockingly defeated by a veterinarian in Tuesday’s Florida primary.
Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, lost his seat by less than 900 votes to Ted Yoho, who won all but two of the counties in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.
With 100 percent of the precincts counted, Mr. Stearns conceded the race Wednesday.
It is major upset for Mr. Stearns, who had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars more than his opponents, served for 12 terms and had achieved national recognition for probing a federal green energy loan program and the country’s largest women’s health and abortion provider.
For his part, Mr. Yoho had won several tea party straw polls and had worked to paint Mr. Stearns as a career politician. In the final weeks of the campaign he had $129,500 at his disposal, compared to more than $2 million for Mr. Stearns.
While redistricting had left Mr. Stearns running in a a new district with about 70 percent of his current constituents, he still expected to win easily. But Mr. Yoho saw the primary’s low voter turnout as an advantage for his campaign, celebrating it in a post Tuesday afternoon on his campaign Facebook page.
“Just got a report of record low turnout across the district which is great for TEAM YOHO!!!” the post said. “Cliff Stearns thinks he has got this in the bag so his people have decided to stay home — Let’s prove them wrong … You can be a part of history! LET’S GO TEAM YOHO!!!!”
Mr. Yoho ended up with 34.4 percent of the vote to Mr. Stearns’ 33.1 percent. The winner will face Democrat J.R. Gaillot and several write-in candidates in the general election.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.