This article was originally published at RH RealityCheck.
Yesterday and this morning, I spoke briefly with Connie Saltonstall, the former county commissioner from Kent County, Michigan who is working on filing to mount a primary challenge against Bart Stupak.
While our conversation was brief and RH RealityCheck is scheduled to interview Saltonstall formally in the next two days, I asked if she was pro-choice. Her unwavering answer: "I am without a doubt pro-choice."
Saltonstall told the Detroit Free Press that she plans to run against Stupak for the Democratic nomination of Michigan's First Congressional District, citing Stupak's efforts to stop health care reform if he does not get his way on a full abortion ban.
Stupak, a former state trooper from Menominee, has held the seat since 1993. No one really knew who he was until he teamed up with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to bully his and their way into holding health reform hostage to their own fundamentalist Catholic agenda by threatening to derail the whole thing unless the "Stupak Amendment" was passed. He continues even now threatening to withhold votes, though many say his position is substantially weakened.
My take is that he would never have gotten this far if the mainstream media had done their homework on the amendment in the first place--it goes far far beyond current law--and if the Democratic Party were not still supporting him. Two months ago, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen, my own representative in Congress, called Stupak to urge him to run again. That was the day I vowed to withhold any further contributions to Democrats unless and until they stop supporting these anti-choice ideologues.
Satonstall told the Free Press that Stupak has let the district down:
"I believe that he has a right to his personal, religious views, but to deprive his constituents of needed health care reform because of those views is reprehensible."
Exactly. Something President Obama himself should have said some long time ago.
Saltonstall and her supporters are now trying to collect the 1,000 signatures needed to put her name on the August primary ballot in Michigan. She is a former teacher who was also a Charlevoix County commissioner. She ran and lost a race for state representative in 2008.
So here are my questions: What is Van Hollen and the DCCC doing for Saltonstall?
And what can we do for her? I know personally that there is huge pent-up energy in the women's and pro-choice communities throughout this country to have a truly--not just nominally "until-I-am-elected-and-pre-emptively-cave"--pro-choice leaders in Congress. As soon as she is ready, let's roll.
What more effective way to show that the pro-choice majority in this country means business and will take it to the polls then to start with Bart Stupak.