In the culmination of a stunning Republican primary contest, U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, Gainesville’s representative on Capitol Hill for more than two decades, conceded on Wednesday to the front-runner and tea party favorite, Gainesville resident Ted Yoho.
Yoho’s upset shook the needle on the nation’s political Richter scale.
Stearns’ addition to the roster of those vanquished by tea party candidates was reported Wednesday in major news outlets across the country.
Mother Jones, a liberal magazine, described Yoho’s victory as “perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2012 cycle to date.” The website Politico dubbed it an “unexpected rebuke” to a “rising Republican rock star.”
Yoho, a Gainesville veterinarian making his first bid for elected office, led on Wednesday by 831 votes, state election records showed. That was out of more than 63,000 votes cast.
In an interview with The Sun, Yoho said Stearns called him around noon Wednesday to concede.
“He was very generous, very humble and very classy,” said Yoho, who added that he, in turn, was humbled and honored by the grace with which Stearns bowed out.
“Ted Yoho really outworked him in the campaign,” said Daniel Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida who followed the election.
Smith said Yoho’s win demonstrates the tea party’s continuing clout two years after its rise to prominence in national politics.
Yoho will now face Democrat J.R. Gaillot and write-in candidates Kenneth Willey, Michael Ricks and Philip Dodds, who have no party affiliation.
Posted: 08.16.12 A. D. @ 10:44 a.m.