Friday, October 28, 2011

When Will Artur Davis Officially Join The Republican Party?


DLC, GOP... same corporate crap

I once met a woman on a plane flying out of Atlanta who told me how then-Congressman Artur Davis was one of the great hopes for African-Americans in Alabama. A Harvard graduate, he was viewed as a squeaky clean reformer when he took on longtime incumbent Earl Hillard in this overwhelmingly Democratic "Black Belt" area of Alabama in 2000 and 2002. Davis, she was certain, had a very bright future. He was the first Member of Congress outside of Illinois to endorse Obama. He was soon followed by Ben Nelson and John Barrow, two of the most reactionary Democrats in Congress. My flying companion didn't know that Davis was "pro-corporate" or that Hillard had been targeted for defeat by AIPAC to teach African-American congressmen a lesson. She was nonplused-- if not hostile-- when I told her that one of the South's bluest districts could elect a far more progressive Member than Davis.

A couple of years later I wrote about Davis' crushing defeat in a Democratic primary for governor.
Last night it wasn't only conservative corporate hacks like former-Blue Dog-turned-Republican Parker Griffith (who was slaughtered in the GOP primary, not even making it to a runoff against some nutcase teabagger) and Palin-backed Angela McGlowan (who came in a distant third in the GOP primary in Mississippi) who had terrible nights. Artur Davis has always been thought of as a Democrat with a bright future, until last night. He spent the last year and a half moving profoundly right: He went from a moderate 70.82 ProgressivePunch lifetime voting score to a dismal and reactionary 31.58 since Obama became President and, more importantly, since he started campaigning to be governor of Alabama. His vote against the health care reform bill was probably the last straw for his congressional constituents, who gave Ron Sparks majorities in 10 of the 12 counties that make up AL-07, Davis' own congressional district! Statewide, Sparks took 199,190 votes (62.4%) to Davis' 119,908 votes (37.6%). Davis' strategy-- one long encouraged by Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC (see Ken's perceptive stinky cheese story from yesterday)-- to move to the political right backfired... very badly. It's a losing strategy; when conservatives vote, they tend to prefer to vote for real conservatives, not Democrats playing the role.

Will the Democrats learn anything from Davis' disaster last night? Not. A. Chance. And especially not know-it-all powermongers like Emanuel and his female doppelganger Debbie Wasserman Schultz. They will continue hunting out reactionary candidates who apologize for being Democrats and, when they can slip into office, vote with the GOP.

Apparently, Davis' rejection by Alabama Democrats, didn't teach him a lesson either-- unless that lesson is to move dramatically even further right-- quite the feat for someone who is already anti-Choice, virulently anti-gay, pro-Big Oil and pro-corporate through and through and a big backer of restrictions against civil liberties. His old district only gave Bush 33% of the vote in 2000, and Obama won there with 72%. Statewide, however, Alabama gave Bush 56% in 2000, and Obama couldn't even get to the 40% mark there, his worst showing in the Deep South. And Davis isn't done with politics. He'd like to run for the Senate next... if former Democrat (turned Republican conservative) Richard Shelby retires. Will Davis first follow Shelby's path into the Republican Party? Jordan Bloom at the Daily Caller discovered that he's been doing more than undercutting Democratic policies. Now he's contributing to Republican candidates as well!
Artur Davis’s new tune on voter ID laws isn’t his only recent right turn. According to third-quarter Federal Election Commission filings, Davis-- a former Democratic congressman from Alabama, donated $500 in September to the campaign of Heather Wilson, New Mexico’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Davis also contributed to the Republican front-runner in the Mississippi governor’s race.

Asked by the Daily Caller to explain the curious donations, Davis equivocated on his support for Mississippi gubernatorial hopeful Phil Bryant.

“I wrote a contribution to Phil Bryant in Mississippi,” he told the DC. “I also wrote a contribution in the primary to Johnny Dupree, the Democrat who’s running.”

Davis told the DC that his support for Wilson stems from what he saw of the New Mexico Republican candidate during their time in the House of Representatives.

Wilson's presumptive Democratic opponent is moderate Democrat Martin Heinrich. But Davis' shocking support for Republican voter ID laws that seek to disenfranchise Democratic voters-- particularly minorities and poor people-- is what's most disturbing about his possible reemergence as a political player in Alabama. He's currently employed by one of K Street's sleaziest lobbying firms, SNR Denton.
It took Davis less than two weeks to go from representing the good people of Alabama's 7th Congressional District to, in the text of an SNR Denton press release, "representing individual and corporate clients in criminal and civil fraud matters in a range of areas, including securities and financial crimes, public corruption and the Foreign and Corrupt Practice Act."

Davis is certainly familiar with lawyers and lobbyists. To wit: Lawyers and law firms rank as his No. 1 industrial campaign contributor during his congressional career, accounting for more than $560,700 in donations, the Center for Responsive Politics' research indicates. Lobbyists? No. 17 out of the more than 120 industries and special interest areas the Center tracks, with more than $70,000 in contributions.

Through the first nine months of 2010, SNR Denton reported $2.17 million in lobbying income, according to federal disclosure reports.

Davis himself won't serve as a federally registered lobbyist, at least not yet. Federal law prohibits House members from formally joining the lobbying ranks for at least one year after leaving office. U.S. Senators face a two-year "cooling off" period prohibition.

SNR Denton's client base is quite diverse, ranging from the National Rifle Association to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to for-profit education firm Apollo Group.

Davis wrote an Op-Ed in the Montgomery Advertiser October 17 backing the Republican plan to prevent Democrats, particularly African-Americans, from voting. He sang the GOP tune on key:
I've changed my mind on voter ID laws-- I think Alabama did the right thing in passing one-- and I wish I had gotten it right when I was in political office.

When I was a congressman, I took the path of least resistance on this subject for an African American politician. Without any evidence to back it up, I lapsed into the rhetoric of various partisans and activists who contend that requiring photo identification to vote is a suppression tactic aimed at thwarting black voter participation.

The truth is that the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community, at least in Alabama, is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt.

Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally-impaired to function, cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights-- that's suppression by any light. If you doubt it exists, I don't; I've heard the peddlers of these ballots brag about it, I've been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has changed at least a few close local election results.

When Davis was asked to point out the examples of voter fraud he wrote that he had witnessed, he demurred.
Some pretty serious accusations he’s making there, but Davis isn’t naming names. TPM asked him to provide specific examples of when he witnessed voter fraud and why, especially as a former federal prosecutor, he didn’t report such schemes to authorities.

“I know that those are the talking points that some groups opposed to my article have disseminated and I choose not to play that game with you or them,” Davis told TPM in an email. “It strikes me as the ‘shoot the messenger’ politics both the left and the right deploy and I hope you will do me the courtesy of printing my reply.”

Would a party switch work for Davis as smoothly as it did for Shelby, and scores of other white ex-Democrats in Alabama? I don't think we'll have long to wait before we find out. Meanwhile, as we have seen from Herman Cain's clownish "campaign," right-wing whites, especially in the South, LOVE a good minstrel show.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home