The End of the Stupak Bloc?

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) is not running for reelection. | Congressional office photo.

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The night is still young, but three sometime members of Rep. Bart Stupak’s group of anti-abortion Dems are already on their way out. Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who was running for Senate in Indiana, lost to ex-lobbyist Dan Coats. Meanwhile, in Indiana’s 2nd and 9th districts, Reps. Joe Donnelly and Baron Hill are trailing badly in early returns. 

(Update, 9:30 p.m. Eastern: Donnelly won. Kaptur will have at least one fellow survivor—maybe two, assuming Nick Rahall wins in West Virginia. Update, 9:00 p.m. Eastern: Donnelly has retaken the lead, barely… it’s too early to call that one. Baron Hill has lost.)

Stupak and his allies spent months opposing the Democrats’ health care bill because they believed it funded abortions. Most of them eventually voted for the bill after President Barack Obama agreed to sign an executive order requiring that no funds from the bill go to pay for elective abortions. (Here’s a good explanation of why their objections were bogus anyway.) But instead of establishing members of the bloc as principled pro-lifers, all of the drama seemed to make them enemies on both sides. Liberals were enraged by what they saw as grandstanding and obstructionism, and anti-abortion conservatives were incensed when the Stupak bloc “betrayed” them and voted for the health care bill. Now most of the Stupak bloc seems to be going down. 

One Stupak Dem is certain to hang on through the next Congress: Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who faced Nazi reenactor Rich Iott, has already had her race called in her favor. But the way things are looking, Kaptur could be one of the only survivors.


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