By: Mike Allen and Josh Kraushaar
April 9, 2010 08:47 AM EDT
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who had a central role in the health reform fight as the leader of anti-abortion Democrats, plans to announce Friday that he will not run for reelection, a Democratic official said. Without Stupak on the ballot, the seat becomes an immediate pickup opportunity for Republicans.
"Now with health care done, he’s retiring," a friend said. "He has thought about retiring for the last three cycles, but was always talked into staying: to elect John Kerry to help end the war, to elect a Democratic majority to get health care done."
President Barack Obama called Stupak on Wednesday and asked him not to retire. Stupak, 58, also resisted entreaties from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the dean of the Wolverine State delegation.
Republicans immediately attributed Stupak's decision to step down as a direct consequence of his health care vote.
“After selling his soul to Nancy Pelosi, it appears that Bart Stupak finally found the courage to tell her no," said National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Ken Spain. "The political fallout over the Democrats’ government takeover of healthcare has put the political careers of many Democrats in jeopardy thanks in-part to Stupak’s decision to abandon his alleged pro-life principles."