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Bart Stupak's retirement: First reactions

The Democrat congressman who took a pro-life stand on health care is stepping down. Here's what pundits are saying

So long, Bart Stupak. The Democrat congressman from Michigan's conservative-leaning 1st district has reportedly decided not to seek reelection. Stupak became a household name in recent months after taking a pro-life stand against the health care bill. But his decision ultimately to vote for the bill — after President Obama decreed that public money would not fund abortions — made him an enemy both of anti-healthcare "Tea Party" groups and pro-life advocates. Here's what commentators are saying about his early retirement:

It's a victory for the Tea Party: This is a "major coup" for the Tea Party Express group, says David Weigel at the Washington Post, which has been "brutally effective in winning media attention and focussing the movement on specific political targets." This scalp will give it renewed drive in the build-up to November's elections.

But the left hated him too: No one will be mourning Stupak's resignation, says David Dayen in Firedoglake, not even the Dems. He made the healthcare debate a "living hell," and for no good reason. "In the end everyone hated him, left and right. Well played."

This could be the end of centrist Democrats: Stupak's retirement is a "sign of how difficult and unpleasant it is" to stand in the middle of the political spectrum, says Ben Smith at Politico. With both parties polarizing - especially on the issue of abortion - you have to wonder how many more will choose to take Stupak's path.

This will spark an internal Democrat feud over abortion: More and more, the Dems have "increasingly gravitated" to anti-abortion candidates like Stupak "to pick up contested swing districts,", says Sarah Kliff in Newsweek. His retirement could be a "harbinger of fissures" between the party and its pro-life members.

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