Bart Stupak Retires; Pro-Choice Forces Move to Win District

With pressure from feminists and pro-choice activists, teabaggers, and Republican, Bart Stupak (D-MI) announced today he will not seek re-election. NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and NOW had endorsed his Democratic opponent, pro-choice Connie Saltonstall, and the Feminist Majority had announced a Dump Stupak/Pitts independent expenditure campaign.

Stupak, Co-Chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, had managed to draw the ire of the feminists and the right wing by first having held hostage health care reform over the abortion issue, then having voted for the act after extracting a Presidential Executive Order to enforce the Senate’s anti-abortion provision of the Act. The teabaggers had raised $250,000 to defeat Stupak and had just began running TV ads against Stupak in his district.

“We learned from the Health Care debate that every pro-choice Democratic vote in the House counts far more than a Republican pro-life vote. Not one so-called pro-choice Republican voted against the Stupak Amendment,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. “Stupak held the health care reform bill hostage for a punitive anti-abortion amendment. How sweet and just it would be if a strong, pro-choice woman wins his seat.”

The 1st Congressional District of Michigan has elected a Democratic member of Congress in every election since 1933. But the District had narrowly voted for President Bush in 2000 and 2004 and Obama in 2008, also by a narrow margin. Stupak had won the District with a 65 percent margin in his last race and had won by more than 32 points in each of the last 4 election cycles, according to the University of Minnesota blog, “Smart Politics.”

Stupak’s announcement, one month before the filing deadline, May 11, will provide an opportunity for right-to-life Democrats to find a primary opponent to Saltenstall. Feminists will move quickly to secure Saltenstall’s head start to win the Democratic nomination.

The Feminist Majority, which had announced a Dump Stupak/Pitts Independent Expenditure Campaign, will continue this campaign as the “Dump Pitts” campaign.