After GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s failed attempt to ingratiate himself with black voters last week the Republican Party is cheering the defection of one time Congressional Black Caucus member Artur Davis of Alabama. The former Democratic Congressman and candidate for governor has grown disenchanted with the party and become a Republican. This move brings a legitimate African-American political figure into the fold of the GOP, while simultaneously giving the Republican Party a chance appeal to appeal to a broader coalition of voters. Davis told Fox News that he made his decision in part because he is disappointed in President Obama and the direction that the country is headed under his leadership.
Davis, who is certainly no stranger to controversy, is one of just a handful of Democrats that opposed the president’s health care reform bill and the only member of the CBC to vote against it. Davis is defending his decision to leave the Democratic Party and argues that the party is intolerant of those who do not tow the partisan line. Once out of office and unconstrained by the party’s mandate, Davis says he was able to rethink his political identity. The time off grave Davis time to reflect on his ten years in Congress and what he was and was not able to accomplish legislatively.
Davis said he worked hard for Obama four years ago because he thought, “he would bring the country together.” It was the democratic agenda of 2009-2010 that rubbed him the wrong way. “I didn’t agree with how they were pushing legislation,” he said, “it was not the agenda I wanted to see.” In an op-ed piece on his website titled, “The Shrinking Vision of Obama” Davis criticized the president on his plans for the country.
“Obama gets low marks on the precision and the clarity scale when he outlines a budgetary vision that treats Medicare and Social Security as asterisks and not the biggest driver of deficits, and trusts the future of Medicare in particular to the old trope of going after “waste, fraud and abuse.” He gets similarly low marks when his defense of health care reform.”
Many in the party have dismissed Davis’ move to the GOP as a cynical campaign strategy. After losing the Democratic Party nomination for Alabama governor twice some in the party are suggesting that he is positioning himself to run for the state assembly in Virginia, where he now lives, rather than being at an ideological impasse with the Democrats. Davis told Fox that if all he wanted to do was run for political office he could have, “done a ‘mea culpa’ and win his old congressional seat back, the move was much more than that,” he explained.
Davis’s political ambition aside, a party switch by a four term former democratic member of Congress and one time CBC member is an irrefutable win for the GOP. Artur Davis’ departure from the Democratic party could open doors for the GOP and possibly be the beginning of a dialogue with black voters who have turned a deaf ear to Republican politicians for years.
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