Another Day, Another Open Democratic Seat

ABC News’ Christina Capatides reports:

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., announced today that he will be retiring after 18 years in Congress.

The reason he gave: His main legislative goal – to pass health care reform – has now been accomplished.

Another potential reason for his retirement: the wrath he’s experienced from angry conservatives over his role in securing the health care overhaul and his stance on several issues.

Whatever the real reason, Stupak told the Associated Press that he was confident in his chances for reelection and that his decision had nothing to do with the tea partiers who are holding rallies in his northern Michigan district this week with the intention of ousting him from office.

“I’ve wanted to leave a couple of times, but I always thought there was one more job to be done,” Stupak said at a news conference. “Either I’ll run again and be there forever, or it’s time to make the break and move on.”

The unfortunate truth for Democrats, however, is that many of their House members have deemed this the right time to make the break and move on. And at least 10 of those Democratic House members represent vulnerable districts that easily could go to the GOP. Rep. Bart Gordon, for example, represents the 6th District of Tennessee; a district in which only 37 percent of people voted for Obama in 2008. In fact, Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., Rep. Charlie Melancon, R-La., Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., and Rep, Bart Stupak, D-Mich., are all leaving vulnerable Democratic districts behind for one reason or another.

While Stupak insists that he is committed to making sure that his seat remains in Democratic hands, the fact remains that only 50 percent of the people in his district voted for Obama in 2008. Without the pull of incumbency, his center-right district easily could elect one of the three little-known GOP hopefuls who are seeking his seat. And, if the voters in the conservative and center-right districts listed above do the same, we could soon be looking at a very different House of Representatives.

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