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Upset looms: GOP's Cliff Stearns trails newcomer in Florida House race

August 15, 2012|By Kim Geiger
  • Tea party favorite Ted Yoho ran an ad featuring actors dressed as politicians feeding at a pig trough. The ad aimed to cast veteran Rep. Cliff Stearns as a career politician.
Tea party favorite Ted Yoho ran an ad featuring actors dressed as politicians… (Yoho for Congress )

A Florida veterinarian who was the tea party favorite in the Republican primary against Rep. Cliff Stearns appears poised to pull off a shocking upset over the veteran congressman after Tuesday's primary.

Ted Yoho leads Stearns 35% to 34%, with just 829 votes separating the two. Two other candidates split the remaining votes. The Associated Press has not called the race, as some late overseas ballots and provisional ballots have yet to be counted.

Stearns, a 12-term congressman representing the Gainesville area, chairs the investigations subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He led investigations into the failed solar energy company Solyndra and a probe into whether Planned Parenthood had used federal funds to provide abortion services.

Yoho, a political novice, cast Stearns as a career politician and ran an ad featuring actors dressed as politicians feeding at a pig trough.

"Career politicians got us in this mess, but all they do is throw mud at each other," Yoho said in the ad. He promised to leave office after four terms.

If Yoho prevails, it will be a stunning defeat for a veteran congressman who had a massive cash advantage and had not been considered endangered.

The winner will face Democrat J.R. Gaillot, a local businessman.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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