U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, who led a House investigation into government support of solar- panel maker Solyndra LLC, conceded defeat in a Republican primary race in Florida today, ending his bid for a 13th term.
Stearns, 71, trailed tea party-backed veterinarian Ted Yoho, 34 percent to 33 percent, in a four-way race, according to the Associated Press. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the two candidates were separated by 830 votes out of almost 64,000 ballots cast, according to the AP tally.
“I am disappointed that I won’t be able to continue my investigations of the Obama administration,” Stearns said in a statement.
Yoho, 57, ran with the backing of anti-tax, anti-spending tea party groups in Florida and won several straw polls before the election. A Yoho television spot that aired in the North Florida district featured three men in dark suits rolling in the mud while a narrator said, “Career politicians are like pigs feeding at the trough.”
Yoho will face Democrat J.R. Gaillot, who ran unopposed for his party’s nomination, in the November general election.
Stearns, in his 24th year in the House, is chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee. He led House Republican critics of the $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee awarded to Solyndra, which went bankrupt two years after receiving U.S. support.
In another Florida race pitting a Republican incumbent against a tea party-backed challenger, U.S. Rep. John Mica defeated Rep. Sandy Adams last night in a primary in a redrawn House district near Orlando.
Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, had 61 percent of the vote compared with 39 percent for Adams with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the AP. Adams, in her first term in Congress, had support from tea party figures including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Mica, in his 10th term in Congress, will face Jason Kendall, a self-described fiscally conservative Democrat, in the November general election. Kendall defeated Nicholas Ruiz for the Democratic nomination, 61 percent to 39 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the AP.
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