October 9th, 2010
09:36 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN 100: Who will replace Bart Stupak?

Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
MI-01: Rep. Bart Stupak is retiring
Primary: August 3, 2010
Location: Michigan's Upper Peninsula, northern part of the Southern Peninsula
Days until the election: 24

Two political newcomers are battling it out for the Michigan seat long held by nine-term Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak.

Stupak announced his retirement earlier this year after he became an early target of the Tea Party Express. The group launched a brutal campaign to unseat the socially conservative, anti-abortion congressman after he announced he would vote for the health care bill. The Tea Party Express, which would later help propel little-known conservative candidates in Alaska and Delaware to primary wins over establishment-backed incumbents, accused Stupak of abandoning his pro-life principles.

So far, however, the abortion debate and the Tea Party movement seem to have taken a back seat in the race between Democratic state Rep. Gary McDowell and Republican Dan Benishek.

Most of Stupak's detractors came from outside of his moderate district, and his seat was considered safe despite his controversial vote. Notwithstanding Stupak's 18-year tenure, this district, which makes up nearly half of Michigan, has proven to be politically capricious in the past. Though former President Bush carried the district in both 2000 and 2004, President Obama narrowly won in 2008.

Now Stupak's retirement has left an open field in a largely rural district with a constituency that tends to favor a strong work ethic over political affiliation. Mentions of political experience are scant from either campaign – a sign that the candidates are not impervious to the rabid anti-incumbent mood sweeping the country. Rather, both McDowell and Benishek have been touting their hands-on business know-how and blue collar credentials. While McDowell frequently evokes his long career as a former United Parcel Service driver and family farmer, Benishek describes himself as "a career surgeon, not a career politician."

It seems though, that as in many other parts of the country, simply having a "D" after his name might prove toxic to McDowell, as the Republican in this race has been steadily gaining in political clout. The National Republican Congressional Committee elevated Benishek in August to "contender" status in its "Young Guns" recruitment program, and several recent polls show him with a comfortable lead over McDowell.

Political handicapper Charlie Cook has rated the race "Lean Republican," yet another indication that Michigan-01's long blue streak may be coming to an end.

Filed under: 2010 • Bart Stupak • CNN 100
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Ernie

    This guy sold his sole to the President. He was told that Obama would sign an Exective Order to be in his favor but Obama waited till after he voted which help pass Obama's Health Care Bill. I told everyone if this guy sold his sole to Obama, Obama is going to stab him in the back. Well Obama did stab in the back and Health Care was passed. So now he's retiring. Not only did he sell his sole to Obama he sold out the "American People" who didn't want Obama's Health Care plan, so now it's law everyone can thank Bart Stupak for helping Obama pass Health Care. Now he is going to retire and live off the tax payers who will pay for him to stay home or become a lobbiest. The tax payer's are going to pay for his health care for the rest of his life. If this guy is a lawyer I wouldn't want him to defend me, if he did I would probably be on "Death Row" for a tarffic ticket that because he would sell me down the "River". "Bad lawyer's make Bad senator's and congressman that's why they go to Washington so the "Tax Payer" can support them.

    October 9, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |