Note: This is a repost of yesterday's diary, which almost, but not quite, made it to the Rec list. Given all the buzz over Ministry of Truth's excellent diary going national, I figured that this is the perfect time to give Stupak's primary challenger as much of a shot in the arm as possible. Please rec if you think it worthy; hopefully it'll give Saltonstall as much exposure as possible, thanks!
Yesterday Tuesday, there was some exciting news in the world of Bart "Mr. Coathanger" Stupak, as local county commissioner and former schoolteacher Connie Saltonstall announced that she's going to challenge Stupak in the Democratic primary based on his anti-choice/anti-HCR stance:
WASHINGTON – Michigan’s Bart Stupak, a Democratic congressman who could help bring down health care reform over an abortion provision, is getting a primary challenge this year.
Connie Saltonstall of Charlevoix said today 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 it doesn’t ban use of government money for abortions. Stupak, a former state trooper from Menominee, has held the seat since 1993.
“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,” Saltonstall said in a statement.
Kossacks and others quickly pounced all over the story, Googling what little info there is available on Ms. Saltonstall, to see what her story and situation are; is she a legitimate Democratic candidate? Does she have a chance in hell? Etc, etc.
Here's what folks came up with:
I found this on michigandems.com. The phone number goes straight to Connie herself! Wish her good luck.
I have already asked if Connie would support a Public Option and her answer is YES!
Further, even if Saltonstall's candidacy is a long shot, I think it is worth supporting her just to put some heat on these C Streeters and their cronies. This is what ACCOUNTABILITY looks like. Give Connie a call and show her some support!
11362 Boyne City Rd
Charlevoix MI, 49720
Phone: (231) 547-2138
I also spoke briefly with her; understandably, her phone's been ringing off the hook since the story broke. At the time we spoke, her old campaign website (used for a failed bid for state representative) domain name had expired.
Not for long, however: A few hours later, someone had registered the domain on her behalf; the following message was posted at http://www.conniesaltonstall.com:
This site is being parked by an unaffiliated, but pro-choice, person interested in seeing Bart Stupak defeated.
I was concerned that his potential primary challenger hadn't yet bought her .com domain, and fearing anti-choice saboteurs, I picked it up.
I have no malicious intentions. I'll happily transfer the domain to Ms. Saltonstall, once she or her soon-to-be campaign contacts me to get the domain, at no profit to me.
I can be contacted at email@example.com
Then, someone came up with the following bio on Ms. Saltonstall, via MIList.org:
Connie grew up in Charlevoix, graduating from Charlevoix High School and the University of Michigan. She married and was an elementary school teacher for seven years before having 2 children. Elected to the Charlevoix Board of Education in 1979, Saltonstall was appointed to the Michigan Association of School Board's Taxation Sub-Committee. In 1980 she began a career in radio and in 1983 co-founded a national media research firm which Connie owned and successfully managed until 2001 when she retired. In 2006 Connie was elected to the Charlevoix County Commission. Currently serving on the Charlevoix County Commission on Aging Saltonstall is also a board member of Hospice of Northwest Michigan and a volunteer mediator and board member for Northern Community Mediation.
As a dedicated community activist, Connie have served a member of the Library Building Committee; was a leader in preserving and renovating an old school which is now a spectacular library, cultural center and information hub for people of all ages. As a member of the Charlevoix Waterfront Art Fair Committee and co-chair of the successful Great Northern Fish-In public art project auction, Saltonstall helped raise over $300,000 for the American Red Cross. At the moment she is currently working with the Friends of Charlevoix County Roads to pass a millage for county road funds.
Connie's son Brayton and his wife Aimee live in Ventura, CA with their 1 year old son, Jack.
That brings us to today, where there have been some more exciting developments.
First, the Detroit News has ran their own story on the topic. Two noteworthy points are bold-faced below--note that while Stupak does have a lot of money, it's not that much, since I presume he was never expecting a serious challenger (especially in the primary):
"I decided to run because people were asking for a candidate because they were mad about the health care issue. It's his willingness to not have health care pass over his abortion position that has people like me upset."
The anti-abortion community has rallied behind him, while he has angered many in his own party.
Saltonstall, 64, said "health care is a right everyone should have," and "Bart Stupak is not representing the Democratic Party's values by being willing for it to not pass."
She said she won't drop her primary challenge if Congress passes health care legislation. Stupak has raised $465,835 in this election cycle and has $274,756 in cash on hand. He chairs the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations.
Saltonstall told me that her "dream" health care bill would create a single-payer system in the U.S. "But I know how difficult that would be to get," she said, "so I would support [the current reform proposal] and then work to get it fixed."
How serious a candidate is Saltonstall? Some of the many calls she's fielded today, Saltonstall told me, have come from "national groups" expressing a willingness to help her become the Bill Halter of the Upper Peninsula. She wouldn't name the groups, or how serious the talks have been, but it's not a stretch to see her candidacy appealing to the same dissatisfied progressive groups pouring millions into Halter's campaign in Arkansas.
Saltonstall is not a complete political neophyte -- she won campaigns for the school board and county commission in Charlevoix county in the past, and mounted a losing campaign for the state Legislature in 2008. But she recognized that taking down an opponent like Stupak is no easy fight.
In addition, at least one supporter has created an ActBlue page for her already. Ironically, the person who set up the page calls themself "Republican for Health Reform" and has amusingly titled the page "going_rogue". This has already caused some confusion, as a friend of mine called up recently concerned, because he thought that Saltonstall was the "Republican for Health Care," which, as far as I can tell, is not the case.
Oh, and literally moments ago (as of the original diary), her own official ActBlue page was linked to from the splashpage.
Finally, someone has started working on her new campaign website--I don't know if it's her, a staffer, or some other third party, but there's at least a quickie introductory splash page as of this writing.
In other words, IT'S ON!!
I swear, I haven't been this geeked about a primary challenger since Ned Lamont announced he was taking on Joe Lieberman in 2006! (Yes, I know about Bill Halter, and have already donated to his campaign, but this is here in my own state, yay!)
Update: I should note that in the comments posted yesterday in response to this diary, a few people who know more about the Upper Peninsula stated that the district--which, by the way, is absolutely huge, covering the entire U.P. as well as a large chunk of the L.P., due to the sparse population up north--is simply too conservative for Saltonstall to win. Being from the Detroit area myself, I can't comment on this other than to say, even if she gets squashed by Stupak, at least it's worth it for the sheer morale-building factor for progressives. If she manages to beat Stupak and then loses the seat to the GOP candidate? Well, that's the risk you take any time you challenge a "safe" incumbent, isn't it?
Update 2: Here's a pic of Ms. Saltonstall, along with a pic showing just how huge MI-01 actually is: