Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) is one of Congress’ craziest members, a birther who’s led the GOP’s witch hunt on clean energy investments and called for women who have abortions to be thrown in prison. But after last night’s primary, it looks like he’ll be going from crazy Congressman to crazy private citizen – he’s narrowly losing his Republican primary to a local veterinarian named Ted Yoho. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has stood by Stearns through all of his nuttiness. Heckuva job, Eric.
This is usually where I’d copy & paste some trenchant news analysis, but … no one seems to know quite why Stearns is down by 800 votes. Even the local Gainesville Sun seems to have no idea what happened, other than to speculate Yoho’s attacks on Stearns as a corrupt career politician may have worked. But while politicos like to espouse Unified Theories that prove they’re Savvy Insiders, it could simply be that in a multiple-candidate, low-turnout primary in the dog days of August, anything can happen.
Yoho is being called a Tea Party candidate, but it’s hard to imagine he could get much further right than Stearns, rated more conservative than GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan by the National Journal & called one of Congress’ conservative leaders by the American Conservative Union. If you’re a sitting Republican member of Congress, you could look at Stearns’ likely loss one of two ways: How crazy do you have to be for Tea Party if Stearns may not have been crazy enough? Or, if even Stearns’ craziness didn’t satisfy the Tea Party, maybe Republicans are better off just doing what they think is right & playing to the middle?