[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/10/art.bart0310.gi.jpg caption="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."