Bart Stupak will not seek re-election to Congress, Marc Ambinder reports.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) plans to announce his retirement today, Democrats briefed on his decision said. Stupak, the leader of a pro-life faction within his party, had received death threats and was under intense political pressure after he agreed to support the Democratic health care reform legislation, even though pro-life groups insisted that it would allow federal funds to be used for abortion.
If you’re a politician not inclined to deliver under “intense political pressure,” you have no business being a politician. And if death threats were a factor in resigning, there pretty much wouldn’t be a member of the Democratic caucus left. Stupak sought the spotlight. He wanted to lead the pro-life Caucus and hijack the health care debate. He refused to quit even when he essentially won by getting the Nelson compromise, which functionally did about everything he wanted. He made the debate a living hell and went out of his way to punish half the US population. And in the end, everybody hated him, left and right. Well played.
Stupak’s district is swingy, but a lot of the top legislators in the area are Democrats. Right now, Connie Saltonstall is in the race, but I would expect a state legislator to get in. This Swing State diary has some potential names, including Senate Minority Leader Mike Prusi and State Rep. Mike Lahti. It sounds like Prusi would be the less conservative and more winnable option – and he happens to be pro-choice, which would be an interesting turnabout for a seat where Stupak said he was merely voting his district.
I can’t shed much of a tear for Bart Stupak. He put himself in the spotlight, then realized he didn’t like it.
UPDATE: Here’s Stupak’s full resignation statement to constituents. He pulled out the “spend more time with my family” form letter.
Incidentally, Stupak’s shock at all the death threats and harassment pushes against the fact that he opposed the Freedom to Access Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which protects women from intimidation at abortion clinics.