April 8th, 2010
09:58 AM ET
5 years ago

Tea Party Express targets Stupak

The Tea Party Express is holding five events in Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak’s congressional district on Thursday.
The Tea Party Express is holding five events in Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak’s congressional district on Thursday.

(CNN) – The Tea Party Express is predicting large crowds for its five events Thursday and Friday aimed at unseating Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan. The five events are being held in the Democratic congressman's large and rural district, which includes the entire upper peninsula of Michigan.

The rallies come as sources tell CNN that the top two House Democrats called Stupak to urge him to stay in Congress. A Stupak spokeswoman didn't confirm nor deny rumors that Stupak is considering retiring from Congress.

"Every two years, Congressman Stupak discusses with his family and his constituents whether to seek reelection. He believes that is what the people of the First District of Michigan deserve," said Stupak spokeswoman Michelle Begnoche.

Begnoche does tell CNN that Stupak's campaign plans are underway, and has already gathered the 1,000 signatures needed to formally file for re-election by Michigan's deadline, May 11th.

Three Democratic sources tell CNN that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have both called Stupak to urge him to stay in Congress.

One of the sources says that the top two House Democrats told Stupak that he's a valued and important member of the caucus, that there's still a lot more work to be done that will benefit Michigan and that the caucus will be there for him.

Despite the rumors and cryptic statement from Stupak's office, several Michigan Democrats who know Stupak tell CNN they do not think he will retire.

The socially conservative, anti-abortion rights Democrat gained national attention last month by helping deliver the remaining votes House Democrats needed to pass health care reform. Stupak cut a deal with the White House that he says ensures no taxpayer money will be used to fund abortions. The bill was signed into law last month by President Obama.

The Tea Party Express says it is targeting Stupak because of his health care vote. The group began what they call a $250,000 television and radio campaign against the nine term congressman. Tea Party Express organizers say that local coordinators are predicting crowds of what they describe as "historic proportions." But cold weather and snow in the area could keep the crowd size down.

"People are angry, they feel that Congressman Stupak betrayed them and they are determined to hold him accountable," says Tea Party Express Chairman Mark Williams.

Stupak is also now facing criticism from abortion rights groups who think he forced too many abortion restrictions into the health care bill. They are trying to raise money for his Democratic primary challenger, Connie Saltonstall.

Still, several Michigan political experts tell CNN they believe it would be hard to unseat Stupak. He is a popular figure in his district, and the anti-abortion, anti-gun Democrat still seems to fit the largely Catholic, socially conservative constituency.

And, so far, Stupak's potential challengers are unknown and not well funded.

"The idea that Stupak, who has been a congressman for 18 years can be beaten by somebody with no money – from left or right – with no constituency, is unlikely," said Bill Ballenger of Inside Politics Michigan, a political newsletter.

The five rallies are part of the Tea Party Express's third national bus tour, which is scheduled to end on April 15. The Tax Day event is expected to draw various tea party and conservative groups to the nation's capital.

The tour, with a slogan of "just vote them out," is highlighting the states and districts of lawmakers that Tea Party Express is working to defeat in this year's congressional elections.

The tour kicked off in Searchlight, Nevada, which is the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Tea Party Express organizers say that Reid and Stupak are their top two targets.

–CNN producer Evan Glass contributed to this report


Filed under: Bart Stupak • Michigan • Tea Party movement
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Angus McDugan

    Stupak is a 2 faced, convectionless, and a trader to his on morals.

    Obama: Listen Stupak, you better vote for ObamaCare or I won't take you to the Under the Sea dance.

    Stupak: Oh please Barack. I think you are the neatest guy in the whole high School. I'll vote for ObamaCare if you let me be your girl.

    April 8, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Angus McDugan

    Obama's response to Stupak: Well, OK. As long as you let me kill babies.

    April 8, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    He deserves that. He also deserves being shown the door, by voters. The people do not need a representative that sells out to the political machine.

    April 8, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. BB

    Anyone with half of a brain is never going to vote for a
    Republican or a Republican who is a nutty Tea-Bagger.
    Never gonna happen!!!! Way too many people are still suffering from what the Republicans and Bush did to this country.
    If anyone does, and the hypocrits (Rethugs) win, then the people who vote for the clowns deserve everything they will be dealt, especially the Independents. We can only hope Independents have a little more than a half of a brain.

    April 8, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. Sean

    A group that can rally that kind of money in rural michigan and is so sexually repressed that they dont really know what teabagging is can be considered dangerous, wheres their money coming from?Based on the flannel,denim and lack of flouride at these events somebody is getting paid...

    April 8, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. Peggy

    Does Stupak really think we believe anything he has to say? He defrauded all of his with his voting for the health bill even though it means our tax dollars will murder babies.

    April 8, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Of course they are targeting Rep. Stupak. They will target everyone who does not agree with them.

    Once upon a time in 1930's Germany there was a small, vocal group of angry people............

    BEWARE America of small groups of angry people!

    April 8, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. shamgar50

    Bigots unite!

    April 8, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Michigan Man

    While I disagree with Stupak's views on abortion and his staying at the C Street house, he has served Michigan well. The teabaggers have nothing to offer our state except ignorance and divisiveness. I will not be welcoming them. I will be working to expose their phony patriotism and baseless fear-mongering, however.

    April 8, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. Nimises

    Its final. Tea baggers are eating their own. Don't they realize they risk gaining a real democrat instead of the closet republican Stupak?

    April 8, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. Julia - Native American from Idaho

    The tea baggers are nothing but a bunch of ignorant white racist trash

    April 8, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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