Perhaps it’s just for a flash, but this week Artur Davis has become a darling of the chattering class again.
Not so long ago Davis was a rising star of the Democratic Party. Some thought he could become Alabama’s first black governor, and no one seemed to believe that more than he did. He bucked the state party establishment, and his political instincts — at least early on — outperformed the conventional wisdom.
As Davis ran for governor, President Barack Obama was pitching his national health care plan. Davis had initially positioned himself close to the president, even taking in the Super Bowl at the White House, but as he prepared to run for governor, he had to shift to the other end of the spectrum, eschewing liberal policies and voting against Obama’s health care legislation to improve his odds in a general election.
For his enemies in the Alabama Democratic Party, it was the opportunity they’d been waiting for. Davis had finally outsmarted himself, and they pounced.
After his defeat in the Democratic primary, Davis found himself politically adrift. He’d gone all-in on the governor’s race, and he’d lost it all.
Davis moved to Washington, D.C., with vague plans of resuming his legal career. He has emerged periodically to take positions even further to the right, opining for opinion writers when they’d listen to him and penning op-eds when they didn’t. Many in the state believed he was trying to defect to the Republican Party for a return to public office in Alabama.
But if the chattering class is on target today, Davis could have similar ambitions in a different place.
On Monday Buzzfeed included Davis among a profile of the three black politicians who have drifted away from President Obama. On Tuesday, the bloviating boiled over after a follow-up piece speculating that Davis might again run for Congress again, this time as a Republican in suburban Virginia.
As political divination goes, it’s pretty thin gruel, and Davis has responded to it with the kind of equivocation typical from possible vice presidential nominees and prospective Alabama football coaches. In his comments today to the Washington Post, there are a lot of “ifs” but no outright denials.
“I do receive encouragement from friends to join the Republican Party and to get into politics in the [northern Virginia] area, but I recognize the challenges of reentering politics in a new state and a new party, and am nowhere near taking those challenges on,” Davis told The Fix. “If I did, I would have a lot to learn about this region and a lot of people to meet, and frankly, would need a lot of help from people in this community.”
I’ve heard that same line of talk before — in the years before he abandoned a job-for-life congressional incumbency to run for Alabama governor. To be blunt, Davis probably fits better as a representative of suburban D.C. than he did as congressman for District 7. I have no read on what his chances there would be, unless of course, he outsmarts himself again.