Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) plans to announce his retirement today, Democrats briefed on his decision said. Stupak, the leader of a pro-life faction within his party, had received death threats and was under intense political pressure after he agreed to support the Democratic health care reform legislation even though pro-life groups insisted that it would allow federal funds to be used for abortion.
Stupak negotiated a compromise with the White House, which resulted in President Obama's issuing of an executive order clarifying the executive branch's view of the subject. For that, Stupak was called a traitor to the pro-life cause. Stupak has represented Michigan's first congressional district for 18 years. He will make public his decision at a press conference later today.
Stupak hinted at this course in a letter to constituents on Wednesday. His district, representing parts of the state's upper peninsula, is marginal: President Obama received 50% of the vote there.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Connie Saltonstall will probably take Stupak's place as the Democratic nominee, although State Rep. Mike Lahti will appear at Stupak's press conference today. The Republican primary may be competitive, too. Dan Benishek, a doctor who raised $200,000 since Stupak's health care vote, is already running.
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