Republican surgeon Dan Benishek won last night in his bid to replace retiring Congressman Bart Stupak, the Michigan representative whom pro-life groups considered a traitor for selling out his vote on the health care bill.
The legislation contains no language universally stopping taxpayer funding of abortion, but Stupak and a block of pro-life Democrats voted for the measure anyway. He and others voted for the measure based on a promise from pro-abortion President Barack Obama to issue an executive order to stop the funding.
The order did not ban abortion funding either and Stupak received considerable criticism from pro-life groups upset that he and his colleagues betrayed their pro-life views and allowed passage of the legislation.
He eventually decided to retire and Benishek took on Democrat Gary McDowell in the upper-peninsula district where health care reform became a proxy battle between the two.
“There are serious challenges facing northern Michigan, but I am confident we can overcome them as we always have — with a renewed sense of patriotism and hope for the future,” Benishek said.
Benishek led McDowell by more than 10 percentage points in capturing a district that is historically conservative but was represented by Stupak mostly because of his pro-life views.
“During the debate over the health care bill, we urged Members of Congress to reject taxpayer-funded abortion. Yesterday, eleven politicians learned that Life Counts, and voters elected a new Congress committed to defending life,” said Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest about the elections that centered on the health care battle.
Stupak struck a conciliatory tone in remarks after the election, according to the Battle Creek, Michigan newspaper, saying he was ready to assist Benishek during the transition.
He urged Benishek to “foster a constructive environment in Washington that will lead to real solutions for the American people as we continue down the path of recovery.”