Rep. Stupak, key vote on health care and Tea Party target, to retire

April 09, 2010

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) -- Rep. Bart Stupak, an anti-abortion Democrat targeted for defeat by tea party activists for his crucial role in securing House approval of the health care overhaul, said Friday he's retiring this year to begin "a new and exciting chapter."

Stupak said during a news conference that he made the decision within the last 36 hours not to seek a 10th term. He said he felt his main legislative goal -- a national health care overhaul -- was accomplished.

"I've struggled with this decision. I've wanted to leave a couple of times, but I always thought there was one more job to be done," Stupak said. "Either I'll run again and be there forever, or it's time to make the break and move on."

Stupak told The Associated Press earlier that he believed he could have won re-election. He insists he wasn't being chased from the race by the Tea Party Express, which is holding rallies this week in his northern Michigan district calling for his ouster.


"It's time to begin a new and exciting chapter," Stupak said at the news conference.

He said he was tired after 18 years in office and wanted to spend more time with his family.

Stupak also mentioned threats he has received because of his stance and votes on various issues.

"The three o'clock in the morning phone calls, that's people outside the district," he said. "That's not my district. I know these folks. They wouldn't do that. You sort of just ignore it and move on."

Stupak said the decision whether to retire was the main topic of conversation when he, his wife and son traveled to the NCAA Final Four to cheer on Michigan State.

"It allowed my family -- the three of us -- to sit down," he said. "There's a lot of windshield time between Menominee and Indianapolis."

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