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Veteran GOP Rep. Cliff Stearns concedes defeat

August 15, 2012|By Kim Geiger
  • Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns has admitted defeat in the Republican primary to political newcomer Ted Yoho.
Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns has admitted defeat in the Republican primary… (U.S. House of Representatives )

Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns has conceded victory to political novice Ted Yoho, a tea party favorite who bested the veteran congressman by just over 800 votes in Tuesday’s primary contest.

Stearns is a 12-term congressman representing the Gainesville, Fla., area.  He was competing for a district that was redrawn through redistricting to include voters from a larger geographic area that he had not previously represented.   

Still, he clearly was not expecting a credible challenge to his 13th bid for the GOP nomination, as he lost the race while sitting on more than $2 million in campaign cash.

Yoho, a veterinarian who has never held elected office, is the latest tea party challenger to succeed in casting an incumbent Republican as out of touch with voters.  He’ll face Democrat J.R. Gaillot, a local businessman, in November.

Stearns had been in the spotlight recently because of his role leading investigations into the collapse of solar energy company Solyndra, Inc., and federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

In a statement posted to his website, Stearns said that he had spoken with Yoho and had wished him well.

“I am disappointed that I won’t be able to continue my investigations of the Obama administration such as the risky loan guarantee to Solyndra and holding Planned Parenthood accountable to the taxpayers,” Stearns said. “There is so much left to do in conducting oversight over the White House and the president’s growing expansion of government into our lives.”

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kim.geiger@latimes.com

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