Stupak, who is staunchly anti-abortion rights, led a group of like-minded House Democrats in negotiating a deal with the White House on the issue of federal funding for abortion which allowed congressional Democrats to secure sufficient votes to pass the legislation. His prominent role in the health care debate coupled with his ultimate decision to support a bill which many Republicans and conservatives read as potentially allowing federal funding of abortion made Stupak a top target of the Tea Party movement - so much so that a Tea Party group was rallying in his congressional district earlier this week.
But, in his first one-on-one interview after announcing his decision to retire, Stupak told CNN that he is confident he would have won re-election later this year. And he suggested that many of the Tea Party activists who oppose him are strangers to his congressional district
"This district is independent," Stupak told CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash. "It's one-third independents, one-third Democrats, one-third Republicans. You have groups come and ago."
He added, "I got along with these folks. And even if they were from my district, they're my friends. And, there's no doubt in my mind, I'd win re-election if I chose to run again. I've chose not to."
Stupak was elected to Congress in 1992 and said Friday that he had decided not run for another term because he had fulfilled one of his original campaign promises from 18 years ago – passage of a comprehensive health care reform bill.