Here are the details:
Rep. Bart Stupak To Retire After Last-Second Deal On Healthcare
Rep. Bart Stupak is expected to announce his retirement Friday, weeks after his critical role in healthcare's passage.
Stupak, the centrist Michigan Democrat who crafted a last-second deal on abortion that allowed President Barack Obama's healthcare bill to pass the house and become law, will say during a press conference this morning that he won't pursue reelection this fall.
Stupak has been wrestling with whether to retire for weeks, and the brutal healthcare fight certainly played a role in his decision.
Stupak told The Hill that fighting the healthcare bill had been "a living hell" a little more than a week before the bill was approved by the House.
Telephone lines to his office were jammed, and he and his wife received nasty calls at home.
“All the phones are unplugged at our house — tired of the obscene calls and threats. She won’t watch TV,” Stupak said during the interview. “People saying they’re going to spit on you and all this. That’s just not fun.”
Bear in mind, this was BEFORE he voted yes on the bill. Just to be clear. Then there was the "Yes" vote:
Things didn't get easier for Stupak after he reached a deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats that allowed his group of anti-abortion rights centrist Democrats to vote for the healthcare bill.
After the bill was approved, Stupak gave the Democrats argument on the House floor against a GOP motion to kill the bill.
A Republican lawmaker, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (Texas), shouted "baby killer" as Stupak was speaking. Neugebauer later apologized and said he was referring to the bill and had said it was a baby killer.
Stupak, first elected in 1992, opposed the Senate-approved healthcare bill under consideration by the House because he believed it would not prevent federal funds from subsidizing insurance plans that would cover abortion services. He and a small bloc of fellow Democrats said they would not vote for the bill unless it was changed.
To win Stupak and his core group over, Obama issued an executive order that said the healthcare bill would not change existing law preventing federal funds from going to abortion services.
Several anti-abortion rights groups said that was not enough, and accused Stupak of selling out.
Abortion rights supporters were also irked by the executive order decision.
Well, it was a win for Obamacare, not for Americans, and these backroom deals continue to feed the anger about the bill's passage. Stupak's retiring won't change that. Or maybe it's because he knew he couldn't win again:
Stupak had drawn challengers in this cycle, and fueled speculation that he might retire earlier this week by saying that he'd consult with his family before deciding to run for office again. Stupak's wife had reported receiving death threats in the wake of his healthcare vote.
The congressman also suffered a personal tragedy in 2000 when his 17-year-old son killed himself the morning after his prom. Stupak subsequently held a hearing on Accutane, a prescription drug used by his son to treat acne that can have have adverse psychological effects, including suicide attempts. Restrictions on the use of the drug were tightened by the Federal Drug Administration in the wake of the hearing.
Stupake's decision to retire adds another difficult seat to defend for Democrats already facing a tough election environment.
Stupak's district includes much of northern Michigan, including the state's Upper Peninsula, a rural area that is seen as Republican-leaning. Republicans will hope to pick up the seat, though The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reports that Charlevoix County Commissioner Connie Saltonstall is the leading Democrat to fill Stupak's spot in the race.
Obama won 50 percent of the presidential vote in Stupak's district in 2008, compared to 48 percent for GOP candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
That is a tragic story about his son, though I am not sure why his son's death 10 years ago would affect his running for re-election NOW. Clearly, he has stood for re-election since that time. And again, while he received threats post-vote, he also received them pre-vote. Not that there is any justification for anyone being threatened, but it is important to keep the facts from being revised.
And maybe Stupak knew he didn't have much of a chance at re-election not just because of his soul-selling for money vote, but because the DNC ain't what it used to be. Indeed, according to Gallup, the "Democratic Party Image Drops To A New Low." But, but, but, wait - didn't Obama HAND PICK the new DNC chair?? Yet:
Americans' favorable rating of the Democratic Party dropped to 41% in a late March USA Today/Gallup poll, the lowest point in the 18-year history of this measure. Favorable impressions of the Republican Party are now at 42%, thus closing the gap between the two parties' images that has prevailed for the past four years.
Oh dear. I can't wait to see how The One's minions are going to try and scramble on THIS one. It isn't Rasmussen (which has been pretty consistently correct, though that hasn't stopped Obama's supporters from trying to belittle it as "Conservative"). Nope - this is Gallup:
Gallup last measured party images in late August/early September of last year. At that point, the Democratic Party enjoyed an 11-point favorable image advantage over the Republican Party. Now, the favorable ratings of the two parties are essentially tied.
The images of the two major parties have particular significance in a midterm election year. For example, the favorable rating of the Democratic Party exceeded that of the Republican Party by 52% to 37% just prior to the 2006 midterm elections, in which the Democrats gained 31 House seats.
Americans' current 41% favorable rating of the Democratic Party is five points lower than the party's previous low, recorded twice in 2005.
By contrast, the Republican Party's image reached its all-time low of 31% in December 1998 -- just after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Bill Clinton. The Republicans' current rating is improved from a pair of 34% ratings Gallup measured in late 2008 and in May 2009.
I hope Stupak is proud of his career, and his accomplishments. I don't know how someone lives with themselves after making such a big deal out of a moral conviction, to then cave for earmarks, but that's just me. I wish him and his family well.
All I can say is, 2010 is shaping up to be mighty interesting, isn't it?