Getting to Know Ted Yoho

Getting to Know Ted Yoho

From demanding Obama’s birth certificate to advocating a return to landowner-only voting rights, the newest contender for House Speaker has quite a track record.


House Speaker John Boehner faces a minor rebellion Tuesday from restive conservatives who feel Boehner is (somehow) too moderate and too willing to compromise with President Obama. Representatives Louie Gohmert and Ted Yoho have emerged as the preferred House Speakers for the far-right members of the GOP caucus.

Gohmert is a well-known commodity at this point; his wacky antics and extreme positions are well-chronicled and have kept liberal bloggers busy for years. But three years ago, Yoho was still a veterinarian in north Florida. So who is this man, who on Tuesday has a (very small) chance to become third in line for the presidency?

Let us guide you through some of his more notable moments, many of which have endeared him to parts of the conservative base:

Only Landowners Should Vote. When politicians are speaking contemporaneously and say, “This is probably not a good time to tell you” about an idea, they generally should heed their own advice.

Alas, when Yoho was running for Congress in 2012, he told voters at Berean Baptist Church in Ocala, Florida, that “I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to tell them, but you used to have to be a property owner to vote.” Right Wing Watch captured the throwback to the nineteenth century:

Yoho went on to note during that appearance that it’s possible nobody will be able to vote soon, thanks to a conspiracy by the Bilderberger Group.

One Way to Stop Obama Is Prove He’s Not American. During his first year in Congress, Yoho pledged to support a bill to “investigate” the matter of President Obama’s birth certificate. He described the advantages thusly: “They said if it is true, it’s illegal, he shouldn’t be there and we can get rid of everything he’s done, and I said I agree with that.” To his credit, Yoho went on to say it would be a “distraction” for the House GOP to pursue that course of action. Right Wing Watch once again captured the moment:

Food Stamps For Me, But Not For Thee. Yoho was among the House conservatives who opposed the farm bill in 2013 because a $2 billion reduction to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was not deep enough. That’s not particularly unusual, but Yoho raised eyebrows on the House floor when he noted that he was on food stamps not long after he and his wife got married at 19. “We had to get on food stamps for a short period of time, so I understand the need for those,” he said.

Civil Rights Act—Maybe Not Constitutional. During a Town Hall in Gainesville, Yoho was asked by a black constituent if he thought the 1965 Civil Rights Act is constitutional. Scott Keyes of ThinkProgress captured Yoho’s response:

YOHO: This country grew through a lot of growing pain. We’re going through it again. As we grow as a country and prosper, we’re going to go through it again in the future. That’s why I’m so thankful for the Constitution because it allows us to do that. Is it constitutional, the Civil Rights Act? 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.


Government Programs Are Bad, Unless… Yoho’s demonstrated enmity towards big-government handouts does have some exceptions. Not for food stamps, but for giant sugar producers in Florida and beyond: “I ran on limited government, fiscal responsibility and free enterprise, but when you’ve got programs that have been in place and it’s the accepted norm, to just go in there and stop it would be detrimental to our sugar growers,” Yoho said.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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