March 10th, 2010
08:58 PM ET
10 years ago

Stupak facing primary challenger over abortion funding

Rep. Bart Stupak will have a primary challenger as the November midterms approach.

Rep. Bart Stupak will have a primary challenger as the November midterms approach.

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Bart Stupak, the pro-life Democrat from Michigan who has made legislative language over abortion funding a flashpoint in the debate over health care reform, is now facing a primary challenger from the left. Connie Saltonstall, a former Charlevoix County commissioner and retired businesswoman from Charlevoix, Mich. who announced her primary challenge Tuesday.

"The main issue is he was willing to sacrifice health care reform because of abortion funding," Saltonstall told CNN. "He's been my congressman for many years. I have compromised voting for him because of his position on choice. Health care and choice are two issues I am especially concerned about."

Saltonstall also says she will continue her campaign regardless of the final abortion language in the health care bill, or Stupak's vote.

"The people in our district lost trust in him. At dinners, he did powerpoint presentations on health care telling us he was going to introduce amendments, but telling us he would support health care regardless of the amendment. But then when the amendment passed, at his press conference he stated if his amendment language was not included, he would take the bill down. He has continued to say he would not vote for the health care bill unless his language was put in," she explained.

The two rivals have a political history together. Saltonstall admitted she has voted for Stupak and worked as a volunteer on his campaign in previous elections. Stupak also endorsed her during her most recent campaign – an unsuccessful bid to represent the 105th district in the Michigan House of Representatives back in 2008.

Saltonstall admits that defeating a sitting member of Congress will not be easy. Stupak was first elected to Congress in 1992, and has won by double digits in five out of nine campaigns according to the Almanac of American Politics. He easily defeated his most recent primary challenger during the 2000 election by a whopping 89-11 margin.

"As a realist I know that defeating an incumbent is difficult," Saltonstall explained. "But I also know that there are many past supporters who have told me they have voted for Bart in every single election and they'll never vote for him again. It will be a lot of hard work, it will be a serious challenge, but we're going to try because the voters of this district deserve a choice."

Updated: 8:58 p.m.: Michelle Begnoche, press secretary for Rep. Stupak, issued a statement in response to news of Saltonstall's candidacy. "The Congressman is not surprised by a primary opponent considering the recent controversy surrounding the Stupak Amendment and health care. He plans to prepare for an aggressive, spirited primary race and looks forward to participating in as many debates, candidate forums, festivals and parades as possible throughout the summer while maintaining his solid reputation for effective constituent services and legislative accomplishments."

Filed under: Bart Stupak • Michigan
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. jim in tx

    She'll be getting a campaign donation from me!

    March 10, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. Charlie in Maine

    As my friend Forrest would say: "Stupak is as Stupak does. I think anyone voting against healthcare reform does not deserve re-election period. Republican Democrat or Independant heads should roll for lack of support. The GOP wants to make this fall's election to be about healthcare............bring it on. Let's go after the blue dogs and the GOP.

    March 10, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. simplelife4ever

    count me in too!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 10, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. illinoisman

    I am more interested in why the RICH AND POWERFUL UNIONS dont have to pay like the rest of us. They wont support the bill if they are not exempt so it must be crap.

    March 10, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. jp

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion however, I cant begin to imagine how a democrat could rationalize killing healthcare reform because of an issue unrelated to healthcare. And i certainly wish those other 11 would stand up and be counted so we can help vote them out as well. I can't wait to send her some money. good luck Saltonstall.

    March 10, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. Angie in PA

    Stupak the member of th C street gang wants to make it so a woman can not even purchase Health Insurance with HER OWN MONEY If it covers abortion. who the hell is he to tell people what to buy with their own money!! STAY OUT OF PEOPLES PRIVATE LIVES!!!

    March 10, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    She'll get a donation from me too. I believe all these men should shut up about women's rights.

    I'm all for castration of any male that impregnates a woman and then doesn't provide for her and that child for the next 20 or so years.

    Maybe if we said it THAT way instead of condemning women that cannot take care of malformed fetuses for 40 to 50 years, it would sound different.

    March 10, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. bob

    Illinoisman- Union members wont be paying because they are a chief benefactor of the democratic party and Obama

    March 10, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. LC in CA

    Abortion is not political, it is medical and biological. Politicians, religious extremists, and lobbys have no business sticking their repugnant noses in womens' reproductive tracts. Butt out. Pay attention to something besides one of the most personal, life-changing, and potentially life changing issues that we women face- giving birth, raising a child in a society that pays us less because we are the ones who give birth, provides us with no real child-care options, no medical options, and judges us either way, married or not. It's not about politics, stupid. It's about people and their right to control their own bodies and their own destinies.

    March 10, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. Jilli

    Stupak is entitled to his beliefs, but he doesn't have the right to deprive 47 million Americans health care coverage because of it.

    I'll be glad to support Ms. Saltonstall.

    March 10, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  11. Marty, FL

    Electoral challenges can be healthy for our democracy on both sides. If politicians were reasonably honest about their positions, they would less likely face a primary challenge, but it appears Stupak's affiliations with C-Street have misguided influence over him.

    Sen. Nelson's amendment already strengthens the Hyde language–no federal funding of abortions. That should provide Rep. Stupak with reasonable support of health care for the American people.

    March 10, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  12. vette gal

    And once again it's all about what each of these politicians want personally, not what's best for the majority. Makes no difference what party you belong to. Personally, I am going to vote against both democrats and republicans who do not vote for a national health care plan. To live in the only industrialized nation that doesn't have it is an embarassment!

    March 10, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  13. Death Assurance Companies

    Now he can go back to his regular desk job at United Health Group and get a raise for a job well done.He was never more than a mole for them in the first place.

    March 10, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. New"G", ga

    It's time that someone shuts his mounth ! I will be happy to send my $10. Stupak just an other hypocrit who votes year after years to fund wars to destroy lives and now he cares so much about it.
    Every life matter Mr. Stupak, unborn, born, young or old.
    Please stop that nonsense !

    March 10, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  15. sue

    I wish I could for for her!

    March 10, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. The Unsub

    Get rid of him

    March 10, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. BeverlyNC

    Stupak is a fool desperately seeking attention. Anyone who knows the law knows that there is NO federal funding for abortions and the subject of abortions is not even relevant to healthcare reform and insurance company abuse stoppage.

    Stupak will not be re-elected. We settled abortion 30 years ago and if he has nothing current to offer, he should not be in Congress. We need leaders and serious, intelligent people who will SERVE the People.

    March 10, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Susan L.

    Yay! I hope she beats the jerk! I'll be donating to her for certain. Anyone who'll take on this Christianist so-called Democrat from the pro-choice side has my support.

    March 10, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. Mike in MN

    Obama and Pelosi keep saying both the House and Senate bills do not fund abortions. If that is so, why don't they just agree to amend the Senate bill with the House language? What's the difference to them and it would make the 12 House Dems including Stupak happy and they would vote for the bill? Could it be that the Senate bill really does fund abortions and pro choice Obama and Pelosi want the Senate language? Seems very odd that any Democrat would resist the House langauage if that is all that is keeping the bill from passing. Unless of course there is a strong reason for retaining the Senate language on abortion. I've read the Senate language and I agree with Stupak that it funds abortions. Obama and Pelosi are not telling the truth.

    March 10, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  20. Ethan

    Rep Stupak:


    The minute Ms. Saltonstall has her website up, I'm throwing $100 her direction. Anyone want to match me?

    March 10, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. Jim

    Dontcha know it's about smaller Government? (Note sarcastic tone, please).

    Smaller Government is only important when it's about regulating businesses that try to steal money or preventing Wall St. crooks from stealing from us. If it's about Abortion, or Gay Marriage, or anything involving private activities, then we need all the government we can handle!


    March 10, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. TonyH

    If I could afford it, I would contribute to her campaign. Stupak is attempting to constrain abortion and isn't even willing to admit that is his agenda – he claims to be protecting the status quo, but is not. Go, Connie!

    March 10, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. Joanna

    I'll be sending her money!

    March 10, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |

    Stupak is a Republican dressed up as a Democrat.
    He does not really care about heath care reform. He needs to be replaced. He is a corporate lobbying traitor to the people.

    March 10, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. Rob Cloos the Doosh

    Say Bye Bye Bart

    March 10, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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