In a possible stunning upset, veterinarian Ted Yoho is poised to oust 12-term Rep. Cliff Stearns in Florida’s 3rd district GOP primary.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Yoho has 34 percent of the vote to Stearns’ 33 percent, putting the Congressman at a deficit of just more than 800 votes. But the Associated Press has yet to call the race since provisional and overseas ballots could change the results. Stearns is refusing to concede, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“Since this is a close primary vote and we still need to make sure all voices are heard, we are awaiting the certified results. Congressman Stearns deeply appreciates the support and hard work of the voters who share his commitment to creating jobs, limiting government, and reducing the debt,” the Florida Republican’s campaign said, according to the paper.
But Yoho is claiming victory. And in part because of the support he received from tea party activists, he could be on his way to taking out the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
“You’ve got your Ted Cruz story of Florida,” one Florida Republican operative said, referring to the Texas Senate GOP primary victor who upset the establishment pick.
On July 25, Yoho had only $130,000 in cash on hand, according to a Federal Election Commission filing. Stearns ended July 25 with more than $2 million in the bank, which left Florida Republicans scratching their heads.
“If Stearns loses, it should be a case study for incumbents who bank a shit-ton of money and then don’t do anything with it,” the operative said.
Stearns was first elected to Congress in 1988. Starting in 1990, he never fell below 59 percent of the vote in winning re-election in the general. But this time the threat came from his primary, and it's clear, whatever the final result, he didn’t take it seriously enough.