Republicans were shocked Tuesday night as 12-term incumbent Rep. Cliff Stearns appears to have lost his primary to veterinarian Ted Yoho in Florida’s primary election. With all precincts reporting, Rep. Stearns fell short of securing reelection in Florida’s new 3rd District by just 800 votes, the Associated Press reports.
The high-profile Republican lawmaker is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight subcommittee. He rose to prominence just months ago by pushing probes of the Obama administration’s clean energy deal with Solyndra. He also helped lead the investigation of Planned Parenthood that eventually lead to the Susan G. Komen foundation cutting funding, then reversing their decision after national outcry.
“I’m going to thank God. I’m going to do a Tebow right here. That’s the No. 1 thing that made this happen,” Yoho told the Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary.
Yoho, a large animal veterinarian who has never held public office, ran as a political outsider and challenged the actions of the long-time congressman. In one campaign ad, he compared Rep. Stearns to a pig.
Redistricting left Rep. Stearns running in a new territory. Local newspaper, the Florida Times-Union, had endorsed him and he had over $2 million raised, according to Politico. Much of that figure was left unspent as of a month ago.
Yoho raised less than $150,000 and relied heavily on YouTube videos and TV ads. He favors repealing the Affordable Care Act, abolishing the Department of Energy, enacting congressional term limits and implementing the Fair Tax.
Yoho is another instance in a wave of unlikely Republican victors this primary season. In Texas, tea party-backed Ted Cruz won his senate contest against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a GOP establishment choice. In Michigan, reindeer farmer Kerry Bentivolio won the Republican primary to replace disgraced Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, over another GOP-endorsed former state senator.
Up to 12 sitting House members have been defeated in primaries this year.