By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Veteran Republican Representative Cliff Stearns of Florida, who stirred national debate in 2011 by spearheading an aggressive investigation into Planned Parenthood, conceded defeat on Wednesday after primary election results showed him trailing a political newcomer.
Rival Ted Yoho beat Stearns by a wafer thin 831 votes in Tuesday's primary, according to the latest tally from the Florida Division of Elections. Yoho will now go on to face Democratic political consultant J.R. Gaillot in the November 6 election.
Stearns had won the backing of fellow Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin before Ryan was tapped to serve as Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate.
In addition to his probe of Planned Parenthood, the 12-term congressman had also grabbed headlines for his recent investigation into government loan guarantees for the now bankrupt Solyndra energy company.
Planned Parenthood has been a lightning rod for criticism from conservative groups because it is a leading provider of birth control and abortion, along with other women's health services.
"I am disappointed that I won't be able to continue my investigations of the Obama administration such as the risky loan guarantee to Solyndra and holding Planned Parenthood accountable to taxpayers," the 71-year-old Stearns said in announcing his decision to concede the primary to Yoho.
Yoho, a veterinarian, centered his campaign on criticism of Stearns for having been in office too long and ran under the slogan "Had Enough?"
Stearns, of Ocala 80 miles northwest of Orlando, was first elected in 1989 to the 6th Congressional District but was forced into the newly drawn 3rd district following reapportionment.
(Additional reporting By Tom Brown; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)