Bart Stupak to retire
Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak will not seek reelection this fall, a decision that comes hard on his front-and-center (and controversial) role in the recent passage of President Barack Obama‘s health-care legislation.
Stupak confirmed his decision to the Associated Press and is expected to formalize it at a news conference at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time in Marquette, Mich.
Sources familiar with Stupak’s thinking describe him as burned out from the long fight over health care in which he emerged as the leading voice of pro-life Democrats wary about the possibility that the legislation would allow federal funds to be spent on abortions.
Stupak eventually voted for the final bill after Obama signed an executive order re-affirming that no funds from the legislation would go toward abortions. In the wake of that vote, he was treated as a hero within the Democratic caucus. But the reaction toward him from activists on the right and left was significantly more vitriolic. Former Charlevoix County Commissioner Connie Saltonstall has announced she will take on Stupak in the state’s Aug. 3 primary.
“After selling his soul to Nancy Pelosi, it appears that Bart Stupak finally found the courage to tell her no,” said Ken Spain, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Stupak was contemplating his next step in politics long before the vote on final passage of the health-care bill last month. He actively considered a run for the state’s open seat governor’s race earlier this year before deciding against it.
Stupak’s seat, which takes in much of northern Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, will be a major takeover target for Republicans. Obama carried it with with 50 percent in 2008 but George W. Bush won the district in 2000 and 2004.
Stupak is the 16th House Democrat to announce his retirement; 18 Republicans are calling it quits while a 19th — Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart — is leaving his 25th District to run in the 21st