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. Leon

    Thank you Congessman Stupak. Keep up the good work. I hope you win by a large margin.

    March 10, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  2. Wmscot

    Way to go ! This has been eating at me from the start ! Heath Care and Abortion should not be in the same bill. It is a deal killer with alot of folks . Get him outta there !

    March 10, 2010 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  3. valwayne

    What a surprise. Anybody with an ounce of principal or integrity in the Democratic party is being challenged by the Chicago Way. Whether intimidating naked men in the shower or arraning primary challenges the White House plays the corrupt "Chicago Way"!

    March 10, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  4. The Lady from Georgia

    Thank you Jesus.

    March 10, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  5. acfaber291

    so what is her platform? pro-abortion.

    if we continue abortions, who will be funding social security and medicare?
    busboys and lawn cutters?

    March 10, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  6. Annie, Atlanta

    Abortion is a legal medical procedure in this country, whether you agree with it or not. And Bart Stupak wants the government involved in that decision. Picture big brother in the examining room with you and your doctor. And when you prohibit insurance companies in the exchange from offering abortion coverage to everyone, whether government funded or not, this is no longer about health care reform, it's about abortion. Why does everything we do get hijacked by abortion? As long as it's legal, old guys in Congress, and everyone else for that matter, need to stay out of it. If Stupak wants a law against abortion, bring it to the floor. Don't sneak around trying to do this.

    March 10, 2010 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  7. Rupugliban are Repugnant Taliban

    This disgusting Repugliban in disguise deserves to be forced to get a real job, if not for the likes of this moron we would be well on our way to having Health care reform. I think it is time the Democratic party starts weeding out the Repugliban who are hiding in it's midst claiming to be Democrats when in reality they are nothing more than Repugliban who know they could not be elected if they ran under the Repugliban banner.

    March 10, 2010 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  8. Dyan

    I need to donate to his opponant. I don't care who it is, frankly, because I'm sending a clear message...... Stupak needs to learn to stop trying to impose his religious and moral beliefs on everyone else.

    March 10, 2010 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  9. Steve (the real one)

    Once again, there is NO room in either party for moderate voices! Neither party is tolerant nor a big tent! Lies told over and over again doesn't magically become the truth! There is a radical element in both parties and that sucks!

    March 10, 2010 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  10. Rupugliban are Repugnant Taliban

    Go get this moron, I am sending a campaign contribution for her campaign right now, I think the whole country should flood her with funds to rid our country of this misguided Repugliban parading as a Democrat, he is a disgrace to the American citizens of this country and is nothing more than a liar.

    March 10, 2010 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  11. HypocriCNN...And Again, And Again!

    Thank You Ms. Carol Saltonstall, I Will Support You All The Way In Your Candidacy. Bart "The Stupid-Ass!" Stupek Is An Undisiplined Ego-Maniac Grandstanding On Stages Bigger Than He'll Be.

    March 10, 2010 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  12. West Coast Conserv

    Why dont all of you 'cute little socialist progressives' pack up your little red flags and your Communist Manifestos, and go back to Russia, China and Cuba. They've been wondering why you would try to escape in the first place.

    March 10, 2010 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  13. double standard

    As well he should !!

    March 10, 2010 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  14. gail

    Good! This sanctimonious man needs a challenger. I am so tired of hearing the anti-choice people talk about the sanctity of life while talking about killing the reform that would insure 30 million people and keep 44,000 Americans that are already living from dying. Sanctity of life applies to those of us already here too.

    March 10, 2010 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  15. Perusing-through


    Send us the name of your web page where you are accepting donations. We want to move our campaign funds to you. 🙂

    March 10, 2010 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  16. Perusing-through

    Dear Connie,

    Where do I donate?

    March 10, 2010 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  17. annie against biased news

    For those of us who still have the morals to know that aborting a baby is just a form of murder – don't use our tax dollars for murder and obama don't bribe or threatened the one or two demmies who still have some morals left.

    March 10, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  18. Denna

    Little by little we Americans will weed out those who are against the health care reform bill. This abortion nonsense is just a cover up for refusing to support the bill. If everyone is so pro life, why are there so many hungry children in this country? If a fetus is so important, isn't the fully developed result just a important? So long Bart and take those other nuts with you.

    March 10, 2010 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  19. Lonnie, CO

    Abort Stupak's campaign!

    March 10, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  20. Richard-Arkansas

    A lot of unions traded pay increases or even took pay cuts with the companies agreeing to strengthen their health benefits instead. Now some feel that they should loose the healthcare that they accepted in lieu of salary. If you feel so strongly, why don't you ask your boss to cut YOUR pay by 10% so you can feel their pain.

    What a crock!.

    March 10, 2010 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  21. The Unsub

    Pass the bill...pass the hell with the repubs!!!!!!

    March 10, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  22. Scott

    I'd rather have a Republican representing Michigan than Stupak. Throw the DINO's OUT!!

    March 10, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  23. Eaaron Henderson-King

    I have already sent her money, and I hope others will do the same.

    March 10, 2010 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  24. tom english

    I can't vote forMs Saltonstall but i will support her with my money! Someone has to respond to this congressman and the hipocrites who are the bishops of my church. They shuffle pedofiles from parish to parish hiding behind their veil of secrecy. Look at Law up in Boston He knew what his priests were doing and kept shuffling them from parish to parish untill the law found out and then what happened? Tthe Vatican pulls him out to Rome so that he doesn't have to answer to anyone. It's the same with Rodimer here in NJ. How can these clowns instruct anyone on sin when their hands are so dirty!

    March 10, 2010 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  25. J in Northern MI

    As someone in Rep. Stupak's district, I have to respect what he is doing. I am pretty conservative on most political issues, so I don't always agree with Bart, but I have voted for him twice because he listens to his constituents. A large majority of us, here in his district, are pro-life, and we urge Mr. Stupak to stick to his guns on this issue. If a representative doesn't represent his constituents, then what good is he.

    Bring on all challengers, and we'll see what the voters decide.

    March 10, 2010 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
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