Mechanic shifts sights from Stearns to Brown

The political newcomer now says he will run for Congress in District 3.


Published: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 11:42 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns apparently proved to be too big a target for one challenger.

So, Michael Yost, a political newcomer whose 2010 congressional bid is partly based on ousting long-term incumbents, has moved the bull's-eye on his map one district over.

Now, instead of challenging the Ocala Republican for the 6th Congressional District seat that includes much of Alachua County, Yost said he will take on Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown.

Yost's filing initially made him the first Republican primary opponent Stearns would have faced since 1990.

Yost, an auto mechanic from Jacksonville, previously said he wanted to defeat Stearns, and subsequently whichever Democrat prevailed in 2010, because he believed the nation needed new blood to replace "career politicians."

That group included Stearns' fellow congressional Republicans, whom Yost blamed for the explosion of the national debt and more intense regulation from Washington.

But Yost said Tuesday he faced a considerable task in upsetting Stearns, who will have served 22 years when his current term expires in 2011.

"After careful thought, and also after hearing from a trusted friend, there seems to be a consensus that me running in District 3 is a much better idea than attempting a run against Cliff," Yost said in an e-mail. "Honestly, being a realist, I do understand, as I stated earlier, this would be an uphill fight."

"However, running for Corrine Brown's seat may actually be much more feasible and it also has the potential to put another Republican into the U.S. House, rather than attempt to replace a good, decent congressman that has what many consider a totally safe re-election," Yost added.

"I still stand on the same identical platform with the same identical core principles and beliefs," he continued. "Hopefully, this will make it much more feasible to fund and run a successful campaign. It will also make finding others in the Republican Party a bit more willing to offer support."

Yost is a strong proponent of the Fair Tax, the proposed levy that would replace most federal taxes with a national sales tax, and increased deregulation of the economy.

Jacob W. Hoechst, a Republican from Orlando, also has filed to run in District 3, which covers part of northeastern Marion County and the eastern half of Alachua.

It's unclear at this point whether Brown would be the opponent for either Hoechst or Yost.

Brown, who is serving her ninth term in Congress, has expressed an interest in running for the Democratic nomination for the seat being vacated next year by Republican Sen. Mel Martinez.

She has formed an exploratory committee and, so far, would face four other opponents, including U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek.

Brown is expected to make an announcement on her Senate bid in December.

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