ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Twelve-term Florida Congressman Cliff Stearns conceded a tight Republican primary Wednesday to a veterinarian with scant political experience.
Stearns conceded Tuesday's election to Ted Yoho, who in a stunning upset won by slightly more than 800 votes - about 1 percentage point.
Stearns had been a national Republican favorite after spearheading criticism of the Obama administration's energy program and its funding of Planned Parenthood.
But Yoho criticized Stearns for being in office too long and pledged that he would leave the House after eight years. He ran a television ad where actors dressed as politicians in suits ate from a trough alongside pigs and threw mud at each other.
"It's a humbling feeling, surreal," Yoho said Wednesday. "I think what got the ears of the people of the district was the message that we've had enough."
District 3 covers the Gainesville area and other parts of north-central Florida.
Stearns acknowledged that there weren't enough provisional ballots to overcome the small lead his opponent had. Yoho held a 34 percent to 33 percent lead over Stearns with only 829 votes separating the candidates.
"It has been an honor, privilege and the high calling of my life to serve the many outstanding citizens of Florida in our nation's capital," Stearns said in a statement.
Yoho's campaign manager, Kat Cammack, attributed the upset to Yoho's anti-incumbent message, his appeal to voters who work in agriculture and to a low voter turnout.
Yoho also was aided by the clever television ad and the endorsement of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Johnny Van Zant.
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