The ascent of Bart Stupak (D-MI) is an astounding and laudable political maneuver. Stupak has represented Michigan’s First District since 1992 and serves as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. According to statistics at Google Trends, Stupak was a relatively insignificant political force only two years ago. Even as late as September 2009, he was relatively unknown outside of Washington circles.
However, despite the fallout from his actions, Stupak’s political strategy – whether intentional or not – will reap him many rewards. It is unlikely that Republicans can mount a significant challenge against him. The district he represents has been in Democratic hands since 1933. Stupak has been its representative for the past 18, winning over 65% of the vote in all four of the last elections that were stuffed with as many as five candidates. The Cook Report ranks Stupak’s district as a “Solid D[emocrat]”.
Furthermore, if Stupak faces even the slightest uphill battle in his campaign, it is undeniable that the Democratic war chest and even Pelosi and Obama will come to a quick rescue. After winning his support for their pet project they would be foolish to let him, out of all Congressional Democrats, swing.
The brilliance in Stupak’s maneuvers is that he successfully capitalized on his unique position to launch himself into the national spotlight. Not only did he become the leader of the pro-life Congressional Democrats, but he outshone all of them. He managed to steal the spotlight and make his person and his issues the prime focus of America. The media, Washington, and most Americans sat, white-knuckled, waiting for his decision on Sunday. By ultimately falling in line with the Democrats he has ingratiated himself to the leadership while making himself nationally famous (or infamous).
The execution of his rise is almost so categorically perfect that one, maybe cynically, wonders if he was a “Yes” vote all along. The executive order that facilitated his vote is, as Stupak admitted, tenuous. Many may argue that Stupak played a brilliant bluff that, after 18 years, launched his political career. Regardless, expect to see a lot more of Bart Stupak in the future as he undoubtedly will become a much bigger player in Washington.