|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th district
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||Earl Hilliard|
|Succeeded by||Terri Sewell|
|Born||Artur Genestre Davis
October 9, 1967
|Political party||Republican (2012–present), Democratic (2003-2012)|
|Alma mater||Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Harvard University (B.A.)
Artur Genestre Davis (born October 9, 1967) is an American attorney and former politician. Davis served in the United States House of Representatives representing Alabama's 7th congressional district from 2003 to 2011. He was also a candidate for governor of Alabama in the 2010 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary. He changed his party affiliation from the Democratic to the Republican Party in 2012.
Davis was an early supporter of Barack Obama's 2008 bid for the presidency, and one of the national co-chairs for Obama's 2008 campaign. Known for his oratorical skills, Davis made one of the nominating speeches for Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. While serving on the House Ways and Means Committee, Davis was the first African American member of Congress to advocate that Committee Chairman Charles Rangel surrender his gavel in the wake of ethics charges. In 2009 and 2010 Davis voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to do so.
Beginning in 2009, Davis sought to become Alabama's first African American governor. In attempting to appeal to a broader electorate, he lost the support of black voters by opposing national health care reform and failing to meet with certain black political groups. He ran in the 2010 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, but lost by a large margin to Ron Sparks, a more liberal Democrat. Shortly after, Davis announced he would be not be seeking another term in Congress, but would instead be returning to the practice of law. In May 2012, he confirmed that he was considering running for Congress as a Republican. A 1990s honors graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, in 2012 Davis became a visiting fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics. He also began writing a column for the conservative National Review. Now a resident of Virginia, Davis spoke at the 2012 Republican National Convention in support of the Republican nominee for President, Mitt Romney.
Early life, education, and early career
Davis was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and was raised by his mother and grandmother. He graduated from Jefferson Davis High School and then magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1990. He earned a J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School before returning to Alabama. He was the recipient of the Best Oralist Award in the Ames Moot Court Competition at Harvard Law School.
U.S. House of Representatives
Davis ran for the House in the Democratic primary against 10-year incumbent and former civil rights activist, Earl F. Hilliard. He criticized Hilliard for taking a trip to Libya in 1997 despite U.S. sanctions. Davis lost the 2000 primary election 58%–34%.
Davis ran again in 2002. The race attracted national attention because both candidates made the Israeli-Palestinian conflict an issue, and both attracted support and money from outside of Alabama - Davis from Jewish Americans and supporters of Israel, Hilliard from Arab-Americans and supporters of the Palestinians. During the campaign, Hilliard questioned whether Davis was "black enough" to represent the district. Davis narrowly won the primary requiring a runoff in June. He won the runoff easily, assuring him victory in November in the heavily Democratic district, and he began his term in January 2003.
Davis was challenged in the 2004 primary by Albert Turner Jr., a son of a leader of Selma's "Bloody Sunday" march. Davis won the primary 88%–12%.
In the Democratic primary, he defeated political newcomer Eddison Walters 90%–9%. He won the general election unopposed.
In the new Democratically-controlled 110th Congress, Davis was assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means. The stature of that appointment, and the difficulty of raising sufficient funds, led Davis to postpone plans to challenge conservative Senator Jeff Sessions in 2008. In January 2007, Davis said that he was still interested in running on a statewide ticket in 2010, either for Governor, or for Senate if Richard Shelby elected to retire.
In 2007 he became the first Congressman outside Illinois to endorse Senator Barack Obama for president in 2008. At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Davis gave a seconding speech formally placing Obama's name in nomination. Davis also served as one of Obama's national campaign co-chairs.
Davis's name surfaced in media speculation as a potential Attorney General in Obama's cabinet. However, Davis was quoted in The Birmingham News as stating that he did not anticipate such an offer, and would refuse it if made.
As a freshman in Congress, Davis led the successful fight to reverse funding cuts for minority land grant colleges including Tuskegee University. As a second term member, Davis won a floor fight to restore funding to the HOPE VI program for renovating public housing; he persuaded over sixty Republicans to vote with Democrats. In 2005, Davis was the lead Democratic sponsor of a bill establishing a national cord blood bank which will widen the availability of blood transfusions for thousands of patients who suffer from diseases such as sickle cell anemia and diabetes. He received an A– grade on his voting record relating to veteran issues from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Davis was appointed to the Senior Whip Team for the Democratic Caucus of the 109th Congress and was the co-chair of the centrist House New Democrat Coalition, as well as the Southern Regional co-chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Davis twice voted against the Democratic-supported health care reform legislation, first in November 2009, and again in March 2010 when the legislation passed and was signed into law by President Obama. He was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the legislation in March 2010; he was also the member from the most-heavily Democratic-leaning district to vote against the legislation.
During his tenure in Congress, Davis was a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, the Committee on the Judiciary and several subcommittees thereof. He was also a member of the 30 Something Working Group and the Congressional Black Caucus.
2010 gubernatorial election
During the primary campaign, Davis downplayed matters of race and emphasized his independence from Democratic party orthodoxy. He caused controversy, including within his heavily minority congressional district, by voting against President Barack Obama's new health-care law—the only black Democrat in Congress to do so. He also refused to sit for the endorsement screenings of Alabama's black political groups, drawing criticism that he was snubbing African Americans in order to court white votes. Birmingham News columnist John Archibald said “He ran his whole race as it if were a general election and he wanted to claim some conservative street cred. Alabama Democrats—blue dots in this big red state—have very little patience for that.” As a result, he became "the first African-American candidate in a statewide Alabama race to lose the black vote" and lost the Democratic primary to Sparks on June 1, 2010, ending his gubernatorial bid. Following the primary, State Representative Roderick Scott said black Democrats “can no longer take for granted they will receive the African-American vote.” Following his loss, Davis announced he was retiring from politics and would return to private practice in 2011 at the conclusion of his term in Congress. Davis was succeeded by Democrat Terri Sewell, the first African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives from Alabama.
Post congressional career
Following his loss in the gubernatorial primary, Davis described his votes in Congress against health care reform as "centrist" and said that the public option for health care would have "ratcheted private premiums even higher." He supported Alabama's voter ID laws. He also contributed money to the campaigns of two Republicans: former U.S. Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM), who ran for the U.S. Senate, and Phil Bryant (R-MS), who won a gubernatorial election in 2011.
For a time, Davis was doubtful he would run for public office again. He said, "Alabama is not friendly to independent candidacies” and suggested that running as a Republican would not be a viable option because the Alabama Republican Party had declined to embrace politicians who have switched parties such as former U.S. Congressman Parker Griffith who switched parties and lost the Republican primary in 2010.
In December 2011, he said that "for the first time in the 150-year history of the two-party alignment, there really is a monolithic conservative party and a just as exclusive liberal party. The ranks of Democratic moderates in both congressional chambers are small now, and their centrism is based more on a demeanor and a skeptical brow than a voting record." Artur further explained that he felt the Democratic Party was moving sharply toward the left, abandoning the South and the Midwest, in a "risky" strategy reminiscent of the 1970s.
In the Spring of 2012, he announced he would become a visiting fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics. In 2012, the conservative National Review online started publishing some of his political commentary. In February 2012, Davis told Politico that some Democrats wanted to argue that Obama's critics were motivated by racism, which Davis called "a huge mistake...a tactic that's likely to backfire" as it would lead "substantial number of Americans" to believe they were being called racists because they did not support Obama.
On May 29, 2012, Artur Davis confirmed that he was changing his voter registration from Alabama to Virginia and that he would run as a Republican were he to seek political office in the future.
In August 2012, he cited remarks by Vice President Joe Biden for "racial viciousness" for remarks Davis said were insulting to African Americans, and said, "Governor Romney is absolutely right as the Obama campaign is running a divisive campaign … pitting one set of Americans against another issue after issue". Davis also said, "It wouldn't be so bad if Barack Obama had not campaigned in such a different way." Davis spoke at the Republican National Convention in August 2012 to voice additional criticisms of Barack Obama.
Following Mitt Romney's loss in the 2012 presidential election, Davis said: ”The Republican conservative base seems perilously close to shrinking to white southern evangelicals, senior white males, and upper income Protestants.”
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District House Election, 2002|
|Libertarian||Lauren Orth McCay||12,100||7.28%|
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District House Election, 2004|
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District House Election, 2006|
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District House Election, 2008|
|Alabama's Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, 2010|
- Newsome, Melba (August 16, 2012). "Why Artur Davis is eager to stand with the GOP". The Grio.
- Williamson, Michael S. (August 16, 2012). "Artur Davis, who backed Obama in 2008, to speak at GOP convention". Washington Post.
- Artur Davis Switches Parties. Political Wire (2012-05-30). Retrieved on 2012-07-03.
- Zogby, James (May 27, 2002). "A Congressional Election to Watch: The Middle East Conflict in Alabama's Seventh". Washington Watch. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
- Orndorff, Mary, "Davis Won't Run for Senate in '08, but 2010 Race Another Matter." The Birmingham News, January 8, 2007, p. 1A.
- by Howard FinemanFebruary 16, 2008 (2008-02-16). "Fineman, Howard, "Part of Something Larger," ''Newsweek'', Feb. 25, 2008". Newsweek.com. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- "Balz, Dan and Kornblut, Anne, "Democrats Nominate Obama," ''The Washington Post'', August 28, 2008, p. A1". Washingtonpost.com. 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- "Steinhauser, "Former Obama campaign co-chair to stump for Romney," ''CNN''', Aug. 16, 2008". CNN.com. 2012-08-16. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
- "Our Campaigns – US Attorney General Race – Jan 20, 2009". Retrieved 2008-11-08.
- "Snyder, Jim, "Door Opens on Cabinet Speculation," ''The Hill'', November 5, 2008". Thehill.com. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- "Gordon, Tom, "Davis Says Obama's Total in Alabama Doesn't Mean a Black Candidate Cannot Win Statewide Race," ''The Birmingham News'', November 6, 2008, p. 1B". Al.com. 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- Orndorff, Mary, "House OKs Davis' Amendment to Restore Land Grant Funds," The Birmingham News, July 15, 2003, p. 6B
- "Marrow, Cord-blood Databank OK'd," The Birmingham News, December 17, 2005, p. 4D
- IAVA Full Ratings List. Web.archive.org (2008-08-28). Retrieved on 2012-07-03.
- Crabtree, Susan (2010-03-02). "Davis calls on Rangel to give up tax chairmanship after ethics finding". Thehill.com. Archived from the original on 20 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- "The most important number in politics this weekend". The Washington Post.
- Bacon Jr., Perry (2010-03-24). "Rep. Artur Davis seeks to become Alabama's first African American governor". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
- Sirota, David (2010-03-21). "The 10 most courageous (and 10 most cowardly) House Democrats – The Numerologist". Salon.com. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- Reeves, Jay (2009-02-06). "Artur Davis Seeks To Be Alabama's First Black Governor". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
- "Ron Sparks Tops Artur Davis | Alabama Voters Oust Black Gov Candidate". Myfoxny.com. 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2010-06-06.[dead link]
- Artur Davis' loss in Alabama's black precincts 'stunning' | al.com. Blog.al.com. Retrieved on 2012-07-03.
- Why Alabama's Artur Davis Lost the Black Vote. The Daily Beast (2010-06-03). Retrieved on 2012-07-03.
- "Artur Davis through with politics after loss". Associated Press. 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- Artur Davis says he won't run for office again after loss in Alabama governor's race | al.com. Blog.al.com. Retrieved on 2012-07-03.
- Artur Davis (2011-12-29). Ben Nelson Retires. nationalreview.com
- Fisher, Marc (2012-01-02). "Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis talks party-switching". The Washington Post.
- Davis, Artur (2012-01-24). "Draft Jeb Bush". National Review online. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
- Davis, Artur (2012-02-10). "Explaining Santorum’s Surge". National Review online. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
- Glenn, Thrush (2012-02-06). "The race issue rises again". Politico.
- Davis, Artur (May 29, 2012). "A Response to Political Rumors".
- Kucinich, Jackie (August 15, 2012). "Artur Davis: Biden's 'chains' comment 'insulting'". USA TODAY.
- "The Republican Dilemma". Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Financial information (federal office) at OpenSecrets.org
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Voting record at The Washington Post
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Artur Davis' Official Website
- C-SPAN Q&A interview with Davis, October 2, 2005
- Collected news and commentary from Politico
- Frontline – Inside USA: Lobbying for Israel April 5, 2008
|United States House of Representatives|
Earl F. Hilliard
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th congressional district