The fallout over U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak's role in the passing of the federal health care reform bill has gone nationwide as the Tea Party Express has launched its own campaign to knock out the politician from Menominee.
The national Tea Party tour has raised $65,000 thus far in its "Defeat Bart Stupak" campaign, according to Tea Party Express Spokesman Joe Wierzbicki.
Some of that money will be used for TV ads to defeat Stupak, the Tea Party tour announced.
The Tea Party Express is a project of the Our Country Deserves Better Committee, a political action committee based out of California.
Still, they focused on a Michigan politician.
"We targeted Stupak because he was a key swing vote to pass this health care fiasco that we in the tea party vehemently oppose," Wierzbicki wrote in an e-mail. "Not only did Stupak vote for it, but delivered a bloc of votes from about a dozen other self-described 'pro-life' Democrats. ... The national reaction has been strong. Very strong. You must realize that Stupak's actions negatively impacted the lives of every man, woman and child in this nation. People are mad. They've been betrayed."
Michelle Begnoche, press secretary for Stupak, didn't return two calls left on her office phone at the Washington, D.C. office.
But Stupak is drawing the attention of Tea Party activists outside of his district.
Janice Daniels of Troy Citizens United said she may give money to Stupak's opposition.
She said she expects Tea Party groups around the state to help defeat Stupak, much like many in Michigan supported Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in New York's 23rd District seat for Congress. Hoffman, with the help of a nationwide campaign, won out over another GOP candidate in a tightly contested primary.
"I think that Tea Party citizens understand the power in numbers," Daniels said. "We can no longer allow ourselves to be marginalized by not standing together."
However, Daniels called Stupak's indecision about supporting the bill a "red herring."
At a town hall meeting last summer, Stupak can be heard saying that if his efforts to stop federal funds being used for abortion were voted down, he "probably would vote for health care."
"All along, he intended to vote for it," Daniels said. "I think the game is over, quite frankly. ... And now the whole state is mad at him. ... He's going to lose his seat and he may never win another election again."
The Tea Party Express last came to Michigan in the fall. It drew 1,300 people in Battle Creek and 3,000 people in Brighton.
Wierzbicki said the Tea Party Express has some strong ties to Michigan.
"We have a strong affinity for Michigan at the Tea Party Express and our principal sponsor, the Our Country Deserves Better Committee. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2008 election cycle in the state opposing Barack Obama," Wierzbicki wrote. "Our chairman is from Michigan, our coordinator is from Michigan. Our chief strategist's son went to college in Michigan. The Great Lake State is a place we love, and it saddens us to see some politicians who have failed the voters in this state and made it one of the most economically-challenged states in the country."
The Tea Party Express started March 27 and will arrive in Michigan on April 9. The tour stops in Escanaba at noon and then goes to Sault Sainte Marie at 6 p.m. on April 9. On April 10, the tour goes to Traverse City (11 a.m.), Big Rapids (2:45 p.m.), Grand Rapids (4 p.m.) and Lansing (7:15 p.m.). On April 11, the tour starts in Clinton Township at 10 a.m. and then leaves for Cleveland.