Rep. Bart Stupak has been the object of derision and scorn since he famously flipped his health care vote. Because of that, his seat has been a big part of the electoral calculus for this fall’s Congressional elections – and despite his retirement, it still is.
Nationally, Democrats were able to win the debate on health care, thanks in large part to Stupak. His last-second flip gave cover to other pro-life Democrats to support the bill – and he pulled enough votes with him that other Democrats in conservative districts, like Heath Shuler, could continue to oppose the bill. (Shuler was promptly replaced by Donovan McNabb.)
As such a key figure, Stupak might as well have drawn a giant bullseye on his back. But it was a national bullseye, as a friend of Stupak told Politico:
The friend said he believes Stupak would have won, adding: “More than 95 percent of the opposition from left and right has come from outside of his district.”
And Republicans have rallied around surgeon Dan Benishek, a tea party favorite, who received very little attention until Stupak voted for the health care legislation even without the anti-abortion language in the bill . Benishek is expected to raise more than $100,000 this quarter, according to GOP sources, a large amount for a first-time candidate who had virtually no campaign infrastructure before Stupak received national attention over his health care positioning.