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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The Eric Cantor of Florida: Cliff Stearns



Not long ago, Florida witnessed a mini-version of the huge upset last night in Virginia that ended the rise of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

In Florida, longtime Rep. Cliff Stearns was caught flat-footed by a tea party challenger named Ted Yoho. Our story from August 2012:

GAINESVILLE — For two years, U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns has used newfound clout in Washington as a spear against the Obama administration, heading probes into Solyndra and Planned Parenthood that have made him one of the most reviled figures among Democrats nationwide.

But Stearns' 24-year career came to a shocking end Tuesday by the hand of his own party, defeated in the Republican primary by a horse doctor from Gainesville named Ted Yoho.

As Stearns conceded Wednesday, the news reverberated nationally, speaking not only to the lurking prowess of the tea party but also the threat facing incumbents, especially those not pounding the streets with all the zeal of their first race.

"He thought he was invincible," said Ray Carlile, chairman of the O'Brien Tea Party in rural Suwannee County, which voted 2-to-1 for Yoho and helped him pad the 800 or so vote advantage that retired Stearns.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 1:59pm]


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