May 30, 2012

Psst, Don’t Tell Anyone: Four-term Former Congressman and Obama 2008 Co-Chair Artur Davis Announces That He’s a Republican

You might think that the news of an African-American former Congressman switching his publicly declared party loyalty from Democrat to Republican would a national story.

Well, it isn’t at the Associated Press, as a search returning no results at the wire service’s national site on the full name of former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis (not in quotes) done at 9 p.m. indicates. Additionally, the link to news about Davis’s party switch is currently perched in the “Post Local” section at the Washington Post’s web site. If this makes TV anywhere but Fox News, I’ll be surprised, even though by any rational definition of “news,” this is an objectively big deal. Davis is a former four-term Congressman, was a big Barack Obama supporter in 2008, and was a former member of the Congressional Black Caucus. The last time an African-American congressman or former congressman changed his party from Democrat to Republican was … well, maybe someone else can come up with a previous example, but I can’t. Several paragraphs from the AP’s “local” story in the Post follow the jump:

Former Ala. congressman Artur Davis shifts voter registration to Va.; eyes bid as Republican

Former Alabama congressman Artur Davis is shifting his voter registration to Virginia and says that if he seeks public office again, it will be as a Republican.

Davis, who represented Birmingham in Congress for four terms and then unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Alabama governor in 2010, announced his decision on his website.

He wrote that people whose judgment he values have asked him to consider running for Congress in northern Virginia in 2014 or 2016 or for that state’s General Assembly in 2015.

“The short of it is: I don’t know and am nowhere near deciding. If I were to run, it would be as a Republican,” wrote Davis, who moved to Virginia in late 2010 to join a Washington law firm, then left to become a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

A Harvard-educated lawyer, Davis was a House member two years ago when he tried to become the first black governor elected in Alabama. He started out leading in the polls for the 2010 Democratic primary, but then voted against President Barrack Obama’s federal health care overhaul and decided not to seek the endorsement of black political groups. Former Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks picked up those endorsements and won with 62 percent of the vote.

Artur Davis noted on his website, “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.”

In an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Davis said he was filling out his Virginia voter registration form and planned to have it mailed by the end of the day.

Virginia, like Alabama, does not require voters to register by political party. A voter can choose to cast a Republican ballot or a Democratic ballot in a primary election.

Davis may have thought that either sending an email to or responding to one from the Associated Press might have led to wider coverage. If so, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way yet.

An item at the LA Times’s Politics Now blog, which if form holds will serve as the paper’s excuse not to run the news in its print edition, is headlined “Artur Davis, former prominent Obama backer, leaves Democratic Party,” and describes Davis as “one of President Obama’s earliest supporters and a former co-chairman for his presidential campaign.” Of course, the AP didn’t include that quite pertinent info. The AP also didn’t include much of Davis’s explanation for the switch. At least the Times did that:

But “wearing a Democratic label no longer matches what I know about my country and its possibilities,” he said.

“On the specifics, I have regularly criticized an agenda that would punish businesses and job creators with more taxes just as they are trying to thrive again,” he said. “I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured: frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country.”

A Google News search on Davis’s full name (during the past week, in quotes, sorted by date, with duplicates) returns a whopping (/sarcasm) 68 items at 9 p.m. A similar search on Davis’s full name and “Associated Press” at Google News returned 24 items, with their origins pretty much proving that the wire service currently considers the story unworthy of national exposure.

Let’s see if the number of stories grows to the thousands you’d expect if a former four-term Republican congressman heavily involved in the campaign of George W. Bush or John McCain chose to become a Democrat. Don’t bet on it — but if it happens, it might just be because “somebody” shamed AP and others into giving the story the coverage it deserves at the level of detail it deserves.

Images were cropped from a photo found at this story at the Politico.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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