NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Conventional wisdom may be wrong about Bart Stupak. Most commentators though he would have been voted out of office for his healthcare – abortion funding flip flop. I’m not so sure. Stupak was a 10-term congressman. He won his last four elections by landslides, carrying more than 60-percent of the vote. Even though his district in Michigan’s U.P. is somewhat conservative, Democrat Stupak has a “safe” seat.
Personally, I think he retired not over what was going to happen to him in his district, but what was going to happen to him in Washington. The payback for publicly opposing your President and your party’s leadership is usually meted out in lost office space, losing favorable committee assignments, being passed over for earmarks and other member-perks. And if the Democrats were to lose their majority in the House, and for a Congressman to be a pariah within his own party, suddenly a retirement of hunting, fishing, and playing with your grandkids may seem preferable to another two years in D.C.
What’s interesting is the fine line between wanting revenge and punishment, and the desire to hold on to the House for Democrats. Stupak’s seat probably becomes a GOP pick-up. What of the other members of the ‘Stupak 12’? All will be politically vulnerable from within their own party and out of it. The only one who seems politically safe is Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who’s regarded in his district as everyone’s crazy uncle. Will the other pro-life Democrats retire? Will they lose in November?
Surrendering 10-12 seats can be the difference over keeping or losing a majority in November. I had thought that Democrats would maintain control of the House with a much smaller majority. On the day of Bart Stupak’s retirement, I’m not so sure.
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau