Rep. Bart Stupak, the Michigan Democrat who led a months-long battle with President Obama and his party’s leaders over abortion language before ultimately supporting their health care bill, said Friday he won’t seek re-election this year.
“I’ve accomplished what I want to do,” he said at a press conference in Michigan, saying that passing health care legislation was a good way to cap his more than 17 years in Congress.
Mr. Stupak said he’s confident he would have won if he’d run again — “I’ve seen the Republican field and obviously I’m not impressed,” he said — but said he wants to begin a new career instead.
He became a chief Republican target after he ended up voting for the health care bill even though it still contains the abortion coverage language he objected to for months, and several Republicans are now seeking the nomination to run against him.
“Bart Stupak is the first casualty of the Obamacare vote,” said Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser. “Caving to pressure from Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, Stupak ignored his district and betrayed his principles. His vote for the massive government takeover of health care proved to be toxic. Stupak sold out, now he’s paying the price.”
Mr. Stupak said his decision gives Democrats time to line up before next month’s filing deadline.
Last year the congressman won a fight with House Democratic leaders over strict language that would have completely separated health care plans that offer abortion coverage from the government-run exchanges that the health care law creates. His amendment to impose a strict divide passed the House.
But Senate Democrats rejected that split, opting for different language, and for months Mr. Stupak said he and up to a dozen Democrats would vote against a final health care bill rather than accept the Senate’s version. Just before the final vote, though, the congressman announced he would support the measure, pointing to an executive order Mr. Obama promised to sign that would reassert current law.
Mr. Stupak said he’s wrestled with retiring for the last six years, but each time decided there was unfinished business he still had to do. Now, with health care passed, he said that’s no longer the case.