Rep. Bart Stupak insists that tea party activists outraged over his crucial support of health care legislation didn't run him out of office, but his decision to retire gives conservatives a rallying point as they target Democrats in the midterm elections.Say what you will but I question the timing.
The congressman, an anti-abortion Democrat whose high-profile role in the "Obamacare" debate earned him enemies on the left and the right, said Friday that he's leaving because he's tired and has accomplished his No. 1 goal: improving health care.
"The tea party did not run me out," Stupak told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "If you know me and my personality, I would welcome the challenge."
Stupak had been a consistent landslide winner in his sprawling northern Michigan district, and the opening now offers Republicans a ripe opportunity to regain a seat they held for decades until Stupak prevailed in 1992.
His political foes — tea party activists and abortion opponents — both claimed credit for forcing him into retirement, and Michigan GOP Chairman Ron Weiser declared that the nine-term incumbent had become the first casualty of the battle over health care in Congress.