Rep. Bart Stupak Announces His Retirement

Rep. Bart Stupak has announced that he will not run for re-election in 2010. From MSNBC:

The nine-term congressman told The Associated Press he could have won re-election and insisted he wasn't being chased from the race by the Tea Party Express, which is holding rallies this week in his northern Michigan district calling for his ouster. Instead, Stupak said he was tired after 18 years in office and wanted to spend more time with his family.

When pressed about whether his decision to retire was related to the threats and hostility he has received over his role in the health care reform/abortion debacle debate, Stupak would only acknowledge that it was something he was committed to and now that it's done, he can move on to a new career.

Teabaggers have a different spin, claiming their media and bus blitz forced his decision to retire. They rolled in yesterday, heralded by a quarter-million dollar ad campaign and embedded reporters giving them free publicity via CNN and Fox News. From CNN:

"People are angry. They feel that Congressman Stupak betrayed them, and they are determined to hold him accountable," Tea Party Express Chairman Mark Williams said.

Stupak also is facing criticism from abortion rights groups who think he forced too many abortion restrictions into the health care bill. They are trying to raise money for his Democratic primary challenger, Connie Saltonstall.

While it might seem advisable for the Michigan Democratic Party to bear-hug Connie Saltonstall, it appears that they will go ahead and look for someone to challenge her in the primary. All they need is 1,000 signatures by May 11th to go forward. The chairman of the Michigan Democrats signalled his intention to go forward with a candidate search today.

"There are a lot of great Democratic elected officials and activists throughout the entire district. I'm confident we'll have a very strong candidate," said Mark Brewer, chairman of Michigan Democratic Party.

Blue America PAC has endorsed Connie Saltonstall's challenge for Stupak's seat. When Stupak nearly killed the health care reform effort (twice!), Saltonstall stepped up and said "Enough. Not this time." If the Democratic party plans to put up a challenger, she will need our support more than ever.

If you'd like to help Connie Saltonstall's campaign, please donate to Connie at Blue America's Act Blue page.

This is a real opportunity to advance the progressive cause in Congress. Stupak's district is one that could truly benefit from representation by a true progressive voice there.

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