Ted Yoho is “biggest threat to GOP” in midterms, columnist says

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House Speaker Eric Cantor’s loss to college professor David Brat aside, Tea Party candidates have fared somewhat poorly against establishment Republicans in the 2014 primary season.

Nevertheless, Intrepid Report contributor Wayne Madsen suggests the biggest threat to the GOP in the midterms could be U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, a first-term “Tea Party disciple” already entrenched in the House seat and leading in the Republican primary for Florida’s Third Congressional District.

Democrats are waiting, with armfuls of videos, newspaper clips and press releases itemizing Yoho’s remarks, ready to paint Republicans as backward and small-minded.

Yoho, 59, narrowly defeated Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns by 829 votes in the 2012 GOP primary, a 1.1 percent margin, then sweeping the general election by 66 percent.

So far, Yoho holds a comfortable lead over conservative Jake Rush, suggesting easy re-election in a heavily Republican district.

He also received a resounding endorsement from Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul, a famous figure in Florida.

Since then, Yoho has made several statements — many of them caught on video –that have the Democratic National Committee “slavering like a Pavlovian dog,” Madsen says.

Yoho called the Voting Rights Act “unconstitutional,” even advocating a return to Jim Crow laws. In a Gainesville town hall event, Yoho answered and African-American man asking if he believed, “any part of the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional.”

“Is it unconstitutional,” Yoho replied. “I wish I could answer that 100 percent. I know a lot of things that were passed are not constitutional, but I know it’s the law of the land.”

An appearance at an Ocala Baptist Church had Yoho saying the only people with the right to vote are property owners.

“I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to talk about them,” he said. “But you used to have to be a property owner to vote,” he added, receiving a round of applause.

As an avid Obamacare opponent, Yoho said taxing tanning beds is “racist” since it discriminates “against white people.” Non-whites do not use tanning beds, “So, therefore, it’s a racist tax … because I got taxed because of the color of my skin.”

The essential element for Rush to pull off an upset is Clay County, which Madsen notes is a fast-growing jurisdiction of 200,000 with part in the greater Jacksonville area. About 40 percent of the district’s voters reside there. Newcomers make Clay County statistically better educated and more affluent than the surrounding rural counties in the district.

In Mississippi, Democratic voters – principally African-American voters – crossed over in the primary last month to help GOP Sen. Thad Cochran defeat Chris McDaniel.

Florida, with a closed primary system, prevents such a scheme.

With Aug. 26 quickly approaching, Madsen suggests that Rush — who has a history of role-playing — might need to “slip into a Superman costume” to pull himself out for this one.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.