Bart Stupak’s Seat Goes to Pro-Life GOP Physician

By Peter J. Smith

LANSING, Michigan, November 2, 2010 ( – Pro-life physician Dan Benishek (R) has seized the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, beating out his pro-life Democrat challenger.

With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Benishek has taken 51 percent of the vote over Gary McDowell’s (D) 47 percent in Michigan’s 1st District.

Stupak announced his retirement from Congress a month after exchanging his vote for the national health care reform law for an executive order from President Barack Obama that purports to ensure that public funds will not be used to subsidize abortion.

Stupak’s deal with the president outraged most pro-life groups, which had been supporting the stand Stupak and a cadre of pro-life Democrats had taken for months that they would only vote for the law with an added statute that prevented all abortion funding.

After Stupak’s much-decried decision to vote for health care, Benishek’s little-noticed campaign took off in this working class, Roman Catholic district that has only elected pro-life Democrats since Roe v. Wade.

Michigan Right to Life pulled their endorsement of Stupak and gave it to Benishek while local Tea Party groups also rallied to Benishek’s standard to defeat McDowell.

Stupak said he had been considering retirement for over six years. However, given the lack of forewarning, his retirement was widely believed to be the direct result of the explosively negative public reaction to his support of the Senate bill, which did not have the legislative fix he had succeeded in getting in the original House bill.

In April Stupak had dismissed the idea of the 1st District falling into GOP hands, saying he was not “impressed” by Benishek or any of the GOP candidates mounting a challenge.

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Updated: Beleaguered Dem Rep. Bart Stupak Announces Retirement

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