Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Career politician? Great! (Why Ted Yoho is very, very wrong about Cliff Stearns)

I get a lot of email from political candidates, some of it welcome, some unsolicited, and some just a giant dose of #headdesk (for the non-Twitter users, that's something that is so outrageously stupid that it makes you want to bang your head against the desk).

You can file the email I got yesterday from the Ted Yoho congressional campaign under the "headdesk" category.

Yoho, a Gainesville veterinarian, apparently announced on Friday that he is challenging Representative Cliff Stearns in the Republican primary for Florida's Third District. The press release contains the usual declarations that Yoho is a "conservative Republican," Congress doesn't understand America, and of course, "I know how it feels to sign both sides of a paycheck!" Then we get some real gems:
Yoho said he would run against Stearns, who has failed to chair a major congressional committee despite being in Congress nearly 25 years...
"As a small business owner and large animal veterinarian, I have a different perspective than the career politicians. Unlike the entrenched politician, I have been in the trenches on a daily basis for the last 28 years...” says Yoho. “I’ve been both an employer and an employee. I know how it feels to sign both sides of the paycheck. That's something that my opponents have forgotten in their years in Washington while standing on the electoral escalator, waiting to move up to the next office..."
OK, number one: I get annoyed with the overly-simplistic idea that someone is unfit for office just because they are a "career politician." Crafting bills and leading them through the legislative process is a real skill, and not something gained overnight. Think about it: in what other profession does anyone reject someone because they have experience in that exact area? 

Just to drive my point home: Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint, and Paul Ryan have all been in elected office over a decade, and are technically "career politicians." How ironic is it that many of the same people that extol the virtues of these conservative leaders will then go on to rail against "career politicians?" Friends, the problem isn't career politicians, the problem is that we don't have enough of the Rubio/DeMint/Ryan type of career politicians and far too many of the Harry Reid/Nancy Pelosi/Arlen Specter types.

And for the record, Stearns spent four years in the Air Force as an aerospace engineer in satellite reconnaissance, owned and operated a small chain of motels and restaurants in North Florida, in addition to other business experience. The man is no idiot, and he's engaged in the sacred "signing both sides of a paycheck" too. Gah. Can we please find a new metric by which to measure candidates?

Moreover, is "chairing a major congressional committee" really the best way to judge the worthiness of a Congressman? Personally, I'm far more interested in how they vote, what bills they sponsor, for which causes they advocate, their personal ethics, what they do to support other conservatives, etc. There's a whole laundry list that comes before committee chairmanships, which, let's be honest, are often used by the chairs to steer pork to their districts and favors to their friends.

Let's look at Cliff Stearns, and see what he's managed to accomplish despite "not chairing a major congressional committee." He has a solid conservative voting record - his ACU ratings of 96.00 for both 2009 and 2010 are tied for second place both of those years - and has avoided controversy and scandal. Not every single one of the 535 members of Congress needs to be constantly making national headlines, you know? As someone who endured the two-year embarrassment of having Alan Grayson as my Congressman, I find Stearns' low-key, mellow personality a breath of fresh air.

I'm completely confused by what Yoho means by his attack about people spending "years in Washington while standing on the electoral escalator, waiting to move up to the next office." Stearns was elected to Congress in 1988 and it is the only elected office he has ever held. If he's on an escalator, it's not moving very fast.

Stearns has flown under the radar for much of his Congressional career...until recently. His  work as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has attracted national attention during the past year. Does the word "Solyndra" ring a bell? 

Stearns has been a tenacious bulldog in pursuing this investigation, and has earned accolades from fiscal conservative and citizen watchdog groups frustrated by the Obama administration's waste and corruption exposed by the failure of the Solyndra solar company. See my previous posts here and here.

Basically, Stearns has kept his head down for over two decades, worked hard, voted consistently conservative, and attracted little attention, until last year when he earned recognition for helping expose the Solyndra scandal. He's virtually ignored by everyone politically except the voters in his own district (who love the guy and keep reelecting him by wide margins) and then as soon as he makes national headlines (thankfully, for something positive), this yahoo, I mean Yoho, declares that he is unfit for office?

Give me a freaking break.

I'm endorsing Cliff Stearns for reelection. Word of advice for new candidates: find a better raison d'être for your candidacy besides whining about "career politicians," or expect a similar response from me.


  1. I still think we need term limits but you make some good points. I think Congress does need some "fresh blood" but Yoho's attacks on Stearns seem unfair.

  2. Cliff Stearns is not a "bad guy" - but I do believe that if you average his record of accomplishments over a term that spans almost a quarter of a century it's mediocre at best. It's good that he's going after the powers that be in the Solyndra case, but in my opinion it's too little, too late.

    1. What "accomplishments" do you expect your Congressmen to achieve? Personally I'd be a lot happier if they'd do LESS - and just leave me the hell alone. Every time those bastards get together and do anything, it just seems to put us further in debt. $15 trillion in the hole - some accomplishment!

  3. Such a great post! I’ve been a fan on Congressman Stearns for years. He has repeatedly won Citizens Against Government Waste’s “Taxpayer Hero” award and been recognized by the American Conservative Union for his ongoing commitment to Conservative values.

    Beyond awards from watchdog groups, Congressman Stearns is leading the fight against frivolous government spending with his investigations into Solyndra and Planned Parenthood.

    Thanks for spreading the truth about Congressman Stearns.

    1. Stearns is a poser. He is big on the earmarks. $4 million to College of Central Florida in Ocala (where his wife works) and has his name on the library for example.

      Maybe he does earn a 96% but that is only in the few votes that are graded.

      I want a congressman who will refuse to vote for anything that is not in accordance with the Constitution and will call out all of those who do vote in opposition to the Constitution.

      Stearns has been there for over 30 years. Time to go. His opposition is Yoho who has never held public office; Oelrich who has been elected county sheriff for several terms then elected to state senate; and Jett who is elected clerk of the circuit court. For my money, Yoho is the only one who has not tasted the power of elected office.

  4. Did he vote for the $2.4 trillion debt increase 8-5-2011? Yes, get rid of him, no, keep him.

  5. You have got to be kidding me, Stearns is a bought and paid for Washington insider. He does not care nothing about you or what is going on, he simply wants to keep his cushy job, and that is it. If everyone is so stupid they can not see the forest for the trees, then they deserve him. I am certainly glad he is not my Congressman. Oh by the way I personally know him.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
Permissions beyond the scope of this license are available here.