More National Groups Sign On To Saltonstall Campaign

More national progressive groups, including NOW and Blue America PAC, have signed on to help former county commissioner Connie Saltonstall in her insurgent bid to beat Rep. Bart Stupak in Michigan’s 1st District Democratic primary. Democracy for America is about to get in, too, according to a spokesperson.

It’s not yet clear how real the effort will turn out to be. But the national coalition to primary Stupak is certainly building, and Stupak’s wife told me today her husband will be ready for it.A day after DFA asked its members to take a position on the campaign, the group says more than 25,000 members have weighed in. And 97% of them say DFA should throw its weight behind Connie Saltonstall, the progressive former county commissioner who’s challenging Stupak in the 1st District, where he’s been a Democratic incumbent since 1993.

A spokesperson for the group said that the result means “it’s very likely” DFA will back Saltonstall in the near future. The group is already backing Bill Halter over Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Arkansas Democratic primary, after a similarly-overwhelming DFA vote showed the group’s membership wanted to use its resources to knock out Lincoln, another moderate like Stupak who progressives blame for slowing down health care reform.

“With overwhelming support like this from our membership, it’s very likely that the national DFA community will get involved in this race,” DFA communications director Mary Rickles told me today.

In a release today, National Organization for Women president Terry O’Neill said her group isn’t waiting — NOW is getting on board with Saltonstall now. Like most progressive interest in the contest, O’Neill said she’s backing Saltonstall due to Stupak’s anti-choice views.

“What a relief that a courageous feminist candidate stepped up to the plate to challenge the co-author of the anti-choice Stupak-Pitts Amendment,” O’Neill said in a statement today. “Thanks to Connie Saltonstall, Stupak’s bullying attempts to use health care reform as an opportunity to restrict women’s access to abortion will be contested at the polls.”

O’Neill promised NOW will send money and resources to Staltonstall through NOW’s political arm, the NOW/PAC. “we look forward to sending her to Capitol Hill to fight for the rights of women and girls,” O’Neill said.

On the progressive site Crooks And Liars today, the Blue America PAC endorsed Saltonstall and also promised to send money her way.

Meanwhile, Stupak is gearing up for a fight. His wife, Laurie, told me today that Stupak is prepared to fight national progressives over his anti-choice views.

“We’re not surprised at that,” she told me when I asked her about the growing progressive effort to depose her husband. “The Stupak Amendment has been controversial with national groups, and we understand that.”

Stupak said the first district shares her husband’s anti-choice views, and that he’s well positioned to defend himself against angry national progressives.

“Ms. Saltonstall I’m sure is a formidable candidate,” Stupak said. “And the Congressman is looks forward to attending debates, parades, candidate forums and all the other events of the campaign.”

“We feel like we’re in a strong position,” she said when I asked her what the addition of a national focus would mean for the race. “Congressman Stupak has always been aggressive — and if it looks like some of the pro-choice groups are going to be contributing to Ms. Saltonstall or any of the other candidates than we’ll just have to adjust accordingly.”