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. Mike

    It's time to send Stupak back home since abortion is a bigger priority for him than Health Care for Americans!

    March 10, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Yeah, there's absolutely no rational reason for government funding of health care to support a Constitutional right. That's just crazytalk.

    March 10, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  3. Nick in Michigan

    Unfortunately Mr. Stupak's comments reflect many of his constituents here in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan. He can get away with his comments because he's ran largely unopposed for years. His Republican rivals have been a joke. I can say my support is behind Saltonstall at this time... but if she were to lose the Primary (which I'm sure she will... nothing like good-ole fashioned nepotism in Northern Michgian) my vote is behind Stupak just to keep one of the Republican jokes away from that desk.

    March 10, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  4. Mark

    Michigan's politics is a mess. They keep electing democrats and the state keeps falling. Actually, it can go no lower, as it alreadly has the worse unemployment and housing market in the nation.

    March 10, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Peter

    Go get em Connie!


    Rich and powerful unions? Yeah you should see those billion dollar bonuses teachers get. Unions negotiate for health insurance on behalf of their members. The benefits union extract resonate to other firms and workers that don't have unions so they have to offer similar benefits and get similar deals from insurance companies.
    It seems your ideology makes you want to hate unions. But they are just organizations of workers (who unlike shareholders all get an equal vote) fighting for the rights of all workers.
    You must be a rich and powerful insurance executive who hates workers.

    March 10, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. Ken in NC

    "Stupid Stupak" is entitled to his opinion but he does not have the right to force his "C Street" views on the public. I hope this lady beats him. I am not voting this year for any sitting member of the House or Senate. I am going to vote for a fresh bunch of crooks to go to Washington next year.

    March 10, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  7. Vic of New York

    YOU GO GIRL!!!! Take this "RED Democrat" , "Republicrat" out!

    Conservadems are not Democrats. They are wolves in sheep's clothing. Stupak is nothing more than a neo-con who ran in a Democratic district – by pulling the wool over his constituents eyes.

    It's time to toss him back to the Party of No. They can keep him.

    March 10, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. Tom C in NY

    Regardless of what he calls himself, Stupak is not a Democrat. Democrats should thus not support him.

    March 10, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. LacrosseMom

    Healthcare IS about LIFE. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, PROHIBITS FEDERAL MONEY FROM FUNDING ABORTIONS. The abortion issue is just one more road block by Blue-dogs and the Party of NO.

    It is hypocritical that those who are "pro-life" would deny millions of American, children, women, men......... healthcare!

    Healthcare for ALL Americans who need it IS ABOUT .......... LIFE!

    March 10, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. Haas

    go get 'em. How do I donate to her campaign?

    March 10, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. Susie

    Go Connie go! I think Stupak is going to regret this stand. He and his C Street buddies are about to wake up to the reality that their religious beliefs have no place in Congress. If they were truly the Christians they proclaim themselves to be, they would not only be against abortion, they would never vote to fund a war that kills more children than abortion does.
    And they would be against the death penalty. But no, they are only against legal abortion, which is not paid for in this bill anyhow, but sure generates a lot of dollars from people who believe their lies.

    March 10, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. Gerry NH

    Labor unions, congress, congressional staff all government employees do not have to have this health care and din't want it. This should tell you how good this bill is. If it is good enough for us it should be good enough for them. Obama doesn't care he just wants to sign something. This passing will not make him look good.

    March 10, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  13. Brad/San Diego

    If I lived in Michigan I would vote for her, Stupak is just stupied, and a lieir. I hope she wins.

    March 10, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  14. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Good riddance you jerk. Now you don't have to lie about getting free rent and kickbacks from your secretive religious sect at C Street that you swore an oath to at the expense of America.

    March 10, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  15. cspurgeon

    Someone needs to investigate Stupak on his connection with the C Street Family and his tax statements for housing support by this organization. This is another one that needs to go home and find a job...

    March 10, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  16. Brian from CA

    There needs to be more primary challengers this election cycle for both Republicans AND Democrats. Don't let those who are not representing their consituencies by pushing their own beliefs. One prime example is John Boehner. He needs to have serious primary challenger to give the Ohio republicans more of a choice. Both parties need representatives who will actually WORK to get legislation through even if it is not EXACTLY what they want. Representatives like Stupack and Boehner need to be voted out and replaced with grown ups who will not act like children and will work across aisles to better the US and not their own campaigns.

    March 10, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  17. They call me "tater salad"

    Stupak is a C-Streeter......Thats, pretty much all I need to know about this corrupt, Bible thumping, wacko to make an informed decision to bounce his a$$ down the road........Religion of any kind should have absolutely NO PLACE in our Government.......Don't get me wrong........I believe in God......I just don't believe that the Bible is the word of God....The Bible was written BY MAN NOT GOD! Nor do I believe in oganized religion !

    March 10, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  18. Jim in San Mateo

    I'll donate to her campaign as well. Stupak is nothing but a DINO.

    He lives in a subsidized rent apartment owned by some secretive right wing operation and now he's got to pay back his rent.

    March 10, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  19. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    I'm so glad the Canadian dollar is so strong these days (it use to be that the exchange rate to US$ was a killer!) My donation to Saltonstall is on its way.

    March 10, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  20. m smith

    She is right . two seperate issues. Don't hold up the process for millions of people because ofthe languare for abortion. Which the bill says it will not pay for.

    March 10, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  21. Preston

    Go, Connie, go!! The government has no business making personal medical decisons for women. Would Mr. tough-guy Stupak like it if his health insurance company stopped paying for his Viagra?

    March 10, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  22. Greg

    GO BART!!!
    If the Health Care Bill was so great it would have passed last year!
    Wake up people and take a good look at what these so called leaders are trying to force upon us while they let the rest of the country go down the tubes!

    March 10, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  23. gr

    I am glad someone is running against Stupak. It is not a man job to tell us women what to do with our body. This decision is between God and the woman carry the bady not the government.

    March 10, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |

    Finally! Get this pseudo democrat out. He gets all the advantages and campaign funding from the party and then screws the party platform. Go Ms. saltonstall. We support you whole heartedly. People like Stupak, who can't play by the party rule, should be kicked out in November 2010.

    March 10, 2010 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  25. southern cousin

    No doubt the challenger is funded by the Chicago thugs, the Chicago Mafia and of course the SEIU/ACORN

    March 10, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
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