Florida veterinarian ousts 12-term GOP congressman

Newcomer Ted Yoho shocks political establishment with primary win
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Dr. Yoho
Dr. Ted Yoho

Dr. Ted Yoho had had enough.

Over the past decade, the large animal veterinarian had grown increasingly frustrated with politicians he thought were leading the country in the wrong direction. Dr. Yoho had heard similar sentiments expressed by his clients and other residents of Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, located in the northern part of the state and described as solidly Republican by the Cook Political Report.

Finally, Dr. Yoho could take it no longer. “I just got to the point where I said, ‘I’ve had enough,’” he said. “We can’t keep sending the same people back to Washington, because the career politicians either created the problem or they failed to prevent it. We’ve had enough of that. They have to get out of the way; it’s time for new blood and new leadership. That’s why I decided to run.”

Dr. Yoho campaigning in Florida
Dr. Ted Yoho emphasized his background as a large animal veterinarian while campaigning in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.

With the blessings of his wife, Carolyn, and their three children, Dr. Yoho declared himself a candidate in the GOP primary election for Florida’s 3rd District and hit the campaign trail with the slogan “Had enough?”

The race had all the makings of a classic David versus Goliath matchup.

Dr. Yoho had worked in private practice ever since receiving his DVM degree from the University of Florida in 1983 and had never run for public office. But he soon found that his years as a practice owner came in handy running a political campaign. The 20-foot by 20-foot veterinary office adjacent to the Yohos’ Gainesville home became his headquarters. He hired one full-time staffer and spent roughly $320,000 during the campaign.

“We ran our campaign like we ran a business,” Dr. Yoho said. “We started with a goal, had a plan, hired a good person, and had a tremendous amount of ground support we built the same way we built our practice: by going out and talking to people every day.”

In contrast, Dr. Yoho’s opponent was Rep. Cliff Stearns, a 12-term incumbent who, as chair of a powerful House oversight subcommittee, investigated the Solyndra solar panel company and Planned Parenthood. Stearns had accumulated a war chest of more than $2 million and was backed by conservative heavyweights including Michele Bachmann and Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney later chose for his running mate.

In the run up to the Aug. 14 primary election, political watchers hardly took notice of Dr. Yoho. That quickly changed after he beat Stearns by 875 votes. “Our message resounded pretty well for a political nobody to come and win in this district,” he observed.

“I hear we stunned the establishment, but it’s the people I met every day who are stunned that Washington can’t resolve our nation’s problems,” Dr. Yoho added.

Former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has since endorsed Dr. Yoho. Amway, the North Florida Farmers Association, the Florida VMA, and the AVMA also support his candidacy.

“The AVMA congratulates Dr. Yoho on his hard-fought primary victory in Florida’s 3rd District,” said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division. “We look forward to Dr. Yoho winning the general election and working with him on important veterinary issues in the 113th Congress.”

Even though he’s “100 percent in alignment” with the Tea Party precepts of limited government, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise, and personal responsibility, Dr. Yoho says political and ideologic differences should be set aside for the sake of the country.

“The ideology that we need to have common to us all is we need to make America strong. If America is strong, jobs will be created, the middle class elevated, and there will be less people in poverty,” he said.

If he beats Democrat J.R. Gaillot Jr. in the general election this November, Dr. Yoho plans to focus on fixing the problems he sees in the nation’s immigration laws and the tax code, and working to pass a federal budget and achieve energy independence. He also looks forward to working with fellow veterinarian, Rep. Kurt Schrader, an Oregon Democrat.

“I might finally have somebody who gets my large animal jokes,” Dr. Yoho said.