Last week, Artur Davis announced on his website that if he were to run for office again, he’d run as a Republican. Davis, a Democrat, was formerly a U.S. representative from Alabama. He left Alabama — and, evidently, the Democratic party — after suffering a tough loss to Ron Sparks in the 2010 Alabama Democratic gubernatorial primary, and he now resides in Virginia, where he would presumably run for a House seat, were he to run again.
“If I were to run, it would be as a Republican,” Davis wrote on his website. “And I am in the process of changing my voter registration from Alabama to Virginia, a development which likely does represent a closing of one chapter and perhaps the opening of another.”
That announcement has brought scorn and cries of good-riddance from the left and praise from the right.
Dr. Natalie Davis, an expert on Alabama politics and a political science professor at Birmingham-Southern College since 1972, told Weld that Artur Davis has been preparing for this switch for the past two years.
“In many respects, Artur Davis is a man without a party,” Dr. Davis said. “He’s burned so many bridges in the Democratic party here, he has very few friends on Capitol Hill and inside the black caucus—where does he turn next if he wants a political career?”
Dr. Davis believes that if Artur Davis ran and won a House seat in 2014 or 2016 and Republicans maintained control of the U.S. House, then Artur could be able to negotiate for prime committee assignments.
“My sense of this is that he’s been wooed by a Republican higher up who see him as sort of an important cross between a moderate Democrat and someone Republicans can tolerate,” Dr. Davis said. “Many will say it represents a step forward for the Republican party. It’s also a cynical move by the Republican party to divide Democrats.”
Alabama House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) had little sympathy for Artur Davis, a former rising star in the Alabama Democratic Party. In a blog post on Friday, Ford referred to the party switch as a “public breakdown,” and wrote that Davis is “a man with no principles, and no understanding of what it means to be a statesman and public servant.”
“When Artur lost the Democratic nomination for governor, he chose to leave the state and use the Internet to whine about the people who didn’t vote for him,” Ford wrote. “He’s like a little boy on the playground who got mad because he didn’t get picked to be on the team, so he took the game ball and left.”
Ford also accused Davis of ambition and hubris.
“He turned his back on the people who he was once elected to represent because the only person Artur Davis has ever truly been interested in helping was himself,” Ford wrote.
Unlike Ford, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, thinks Davis is a man of principle. He told the Washington Post as much:
“The fact that he has the courage to analyze the problems with the current administration on the issues of unifying diverse interests in America and creating jobs tells me this is a guy with a lot of principle,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell said Davis is off to a “great start” if he wants to be a candidate in Virginia politics.
Davis said he is yet to reach a decision on whether to run, or even what office he might run for (although he does seem set on Virginia), but he said he’s “nowhere near deciding.” He has many options: Davis wrote that he could run for one of several House seats in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. in 2014 or 2016, but he may also be considering running for a seat in the Virginia assembly.