Former Congressman Artur Davis, who served Alabama’s seventh district as a Democrat and then lost a primary bid in a run for governor, has announced (after writing a series of opinion pieces critical of the Democratic party) that he was switching to the GOP. Davis was one of the people who placed then-Senator Barack Obama’s name into nomination for the Presidency at the Democratic National Convention. Since losing his bid for Alabama governor, he has written a series of pieces for right-leaning media, presaging his transition to the GOP and a possible run for Congress as a Republican candidate in Northern Virginia. (Disclosure: Rep. Davis and I both served as Spring 2012 fellows at Harvard’s Institute of Politics; and also, although we did not meet in our college years, both graduated from Harvard in 1990.)
Rep. Davis spoke to NPR host Michel Martin on her show Tell Me More and said:
[T]his is not about renouncing my support of Barack Obama four years ago. That happened and you can’t change the script on that. And I very much believe and still believe in the America that you heard me describe in that line from the very forgettable nominating speech four years ago.
But I no longer think that the Democratic Party is the best way to deliver that kind of America. What was it that I talked about? I talked about a country where there were no limitations based on your race. I talked about a country where aspiration was the driving force in America.
Unfortunately, I see the Democratic Party taking a step backward on both those fronts. I see more of an embrace of identity politics and group politics, which makes us more fractured than united, and candidly, I see the Republican Party talking more effectively about growth. Because growth is the key to mobility and aspiration…..
I align myself with the center right. There is no center right in the Democratic Party; there is one in the Republican Party…..
You don’t leave a party because of any one thing. You do it because, over a period of time, you look at the issues and you decided, you know what, I feel more comfortable over here. Now, what I do think is interesting is there seem to be some Democrats and liberals whose opinion is, we don’t want you in our party. We don’t want you in the other party either, you know. So I mean, I think what some people mean is we don’t like you and we wish you were silent and you were buried somewhere politically.
On the Political Jones radio show, host Leroy Jones spoke with Cory Ealons, who worked for Rep. Davis and then went to serve in the Obama Administration before heading to private industry.
Here is a portion of what Ealons had to say:
Politically, I am incredibly disappointed….
As the Congressman has talked about this week, the healthcare vote was a critical vote in 2010…. The Congressman voted against both of those [initial versions of the healthcare] bills but it was with the caveat that he would cast another vote… Ultimately, when that final vote did come in early 2010, he voted against it.
That released a tirade of opposition from individuals and organizations in the state of Alabama, many of them African-American. And then when you’ve had the record that the Congressman had, representing one of the poorest districts in the country, representing a primarily African-American district, and representing a district that was and remains so disproportionately impacted by the lack of access to healthcare, it was an incongruent message that quite frankly a lot of people had challenges rectifying in their mind. A lot of people thought he had turned their back on them….
[Also] he cast a vote in some people’s minds against the President….not just the President, but his friend. All that combined is why we have the situation that we have today.