The latest chapter in the career of Congressman Bart Stupak unfolded today on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette.  Speaking at a press conference at the Superior Dome, and citing a 30-year career in public service including representing the 1st District in Congress for 18 years, Stupak announced that he will not seek re-election in November.  The announcement came after Stupak made the final decision with his family in the last day and a half or so.

Stupak had been thrust into the national spotlight of late due to his position concerning the public funding of abortion services in the extremely controversial health care reform bill as it made it’s way through Congress.  Stupak’s vote was


considered by many as the “yes” or “no” to the bill becoming law.  Following his decision to vote in favor of the measure, Stupak became the target of many political activist groups including the Tea Party Movement, who had slated him as their number two Democrat targeted for being voted out of office after Harry Reid in November.

The Menominee Democrat says that the recent attacks against him and his family and the controversy over health care were not deciding factors in his plan to retire.  In fact, Stupak said he felt that if he would have ran this fall, he would have won the race handily.  Stupak says he will now take some time to plan for retirement and will explore other options.  He says he will continue to serve the people of the 1st Congressional District, but in a new way.

To listen to the comments of Congressman Stupak from an exclusive interview with Great Lakes Radio News following the official press conference, please click “HERE

The following is the text of Congressman Stupak’s comments that were delivered today at the press conference at the Superior Dome on the campus of NMU in Marquette:

The people of Northern Michigan have provided me with the honor of representing them in Congress for the past 18 years.  I am truly grateful for their support.

I have the distinct honor of serving as your Congressman longer than any other member in modern times – longer than Bob Davis, Phil Ruppe, or John Bennett.

When I first ran for Congress in 1992, I campaigned on a pledge to make affordable, quality health care a right, not a privilege, for all Americans.  I promised the people of the First District that I would not accept the insurance that Members of Congress receive – the Federal Employees Health Benefit Package – until all Americans could have access to that same quality of care.  For the last 18 years, I have kept that promise.

Since the day I took office, I have fought to improve the quality and accessibility of health care for people throughout Northern Michigan, and across this country.  Despite many set backs, in the process and in politics, I never gave up hope, and I never gave in.  As a result, we’ve made significant progress.

Today, in Northern Michigan, eleven Community Based Outpatient Veterans Clinics have been established to provide veterans with the care they need and deserve.

Broadband access for Northern Michigan hospitals serves as a model for the country of how to improve the quality and efficiency of care and lower costs in rural areas.

We’ve improved emergency rooms and provided updated diagnostic technology, leading to improved medical treatment and critical prevention services.

And, last month, we finally accomplished what I set out to do 18 years ago – we passed comprehensive national health care reform!

Throughout the past year, I have worked alongside my colleagues to achieve health care reform and I’m proud to have helped bring it across the finish line.

As a result of that work, today we are on a path to provide health insurance for 32 million more Americans, including 38,000 people living in Northern Michigan.

Today, because of these reforms, all American families – including more than 197,000 here in Northern Michigan – will see their costs lowered and receive important consumer protections so that they no longer have to live in fear of being one illness or injury away from bankruptcy.

Today, children can no longer be denied care because of a preexisting condition, and no insurance can drop you or your family from care, or cap your insurance coverage, due to a serious or chronic illness.

Today, because of reform, seniors will be able to afford their prescriptions drugs, and Americans will receive the preventive care they need.

And today, small businesses can receive tax credits to help make employee coverage more affordable.

After 18 years, together we have accomplished what you sent me to Washington to do.

My friends and family know that during the past several election cycles, when it seemed like health care reform was an impossible dream in Washington, I considered retiring from Congress.   I wish to spend more time with my family and begin a new chapter in my career.

But, in each of the past several election cycles, I chose to continue to serve the people of the First District, because I felt we still had work to do.

In 2004, after voting against the war in Iraq, I worked to elect John Kerry so that we could bring the illegal and immoral war to an end.

In 2006, when it seemed possible for Democrats to regain the majority and put this country back on track, I worked hard to make that happen.  When it did, I became Chairman of Oversight and Investigations, the most fascinating subcommittee in all of Congress!

Over the last four years, we have launched investigations into high-profile issues such as border security, nursing home safety, security breaches at nuclear weapons labs, food and drug safety investigations, excessive energy speculation, discriminatory practices of the health insurance industry, and the recent Toyota sudden unattended acceleration problems.

And, two years ago, I saw an opportunity to finally enact health care reform with the election of a new president.

While legislative accomplishments have been a significant part of my career, perhaps the thing I am most proud of over the past 18 years as your Congressman is helping you, my friends, my neighbors, and my constituents.

My staff and I have helped tens of thousands of people resolve problems and cut through red tape.  Problems such as helping secure benefits through the Veterans or Social Security Administration, or helping with a tax problem at the IRS, or securing medals for a service member who valiantly served our country.  We’ve helped people obtain passports, secure local mail delivery service, and obtain funding to weatherize their homes in order to save money on their monthly bills.

These may seem like little things, but to me and my dedicated staff they are the most important things.

I want to thank members of my staff, past and present, both here in Northern Michigan and Washington DC., especially those individuals who have been with me from the beginning of my Congressional career:

Chief of Staff, Scott Schloegel, District Director, Tom Baldini, Sue McCarthy, Ann Fix, Amy Wisti, and Sue Norkowski.  I thank them for their dedication, loyalty, and hard work.

I have spent more than 30 years in public service – as a police officer in Escanaba, a Michigan State Police Trooper, a State Representative and now a United States Congressman.   My service to the people of Michigan has been the greatest honor of my life.

But, it is time to begin a new chapter.

Last night and early this morning, I informed Democratic leaders and key supporters that I would not seek reelection to Congress.   I will always serve the people of the First District, but have chosen not to continue to do so as their Congressman.

I am committed to helping Democrats retain this seat as I believe we must continue to fight for our working families and small businesses, for our economic and national security, for our environment, and for our quality of life.

By announcing my intentions here today, potential candidates will have ample opportunity to organize campaigns and collect the necessary signatures before the May 11th filing deadline.

I want to thank the people of Northern Michigan for putting their faith in me.  For 18 years, I have traveled this district – from Keweenaw Bay – to Grand Traverse Bay – to Saginaw Bay – and all points in between – to hear your concerns and share in your joys and disappointments.

I have enjoyed almost each and every minute, and fought for you and your families each and every day.   But, now it is time for me to spend a little more time with my wife of 36 years, Laurie, whose love and commitment has sustained me through the years . . .  with my son, Ken, and his family . . . and my extended family and friends.

Thank you.