While one House vote still stands between health-care reform and its final passage, the Democratic National Committee is wasting no time thanking vulnerable members of Congress who stuck with the party—and going after Republicans who stood in its way. Starting today, the Dems are showing 35 television and radio ads to call out or congratulate members of Congress who all seem to have one thing in common: a challenging 2010 election in their future.
Noticeably absent from the list, however, is a representative who arguably played the largest role in clinching the House health-care-reform vote: Bart Stupak. While this by no means precludes DNC support for Stupak down the road, something about it feels a little off, especially given the fact that the campaign includes a number of other anti-abortion Democrats from the Midwest: Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Jim Oberstar (Minn.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).
Stupak might be the one who could use the DNC’s help the most right now. Just yesterday, NARAL and Planned Parenthood endorsed Connie Saltonstall, an abortion-rights supporter who will challenge him in the 2010 election. At the other end of the spectrum, The American Spectator has declared his Republican challenger, Dan Benishek, the “Most Popular Republican in America” (his Facebook page already has more than 20,000 fans, who, judging from their comments, are furious about Stupak agreeing to Obama’s executive order). Meanwhile, anti-abortion groups have largely fled the scene: local chapters of Right to Life withdrew their support for the congressman earlier this week. Come November, Michigan’s First District is shaping up to be an unlikely hotbed of abortion politics.