Many who read this article will have never heard the name Artur Davis. Davis, a one-time Democrat congressman from Alabama’s seventh congressional district will make a prime-time address at the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida and his former Congressional Black Caucus colleagues are not pleased.
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. Davis is well-respected for his oratorical skills and was tapped to make 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 then-Committee Chairman Charles Rangel surrender his gavel in the wake of ethics charges. In 2009 and 2010 Davis was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In May 2012 Davis announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party, changing his voter registration from Alabama Democrat to Virginia Republican.
Fourteen members of the black caucus wrote to Davis to share their disapproval as he prepares to take the stage Tuesday night in Tampa.
“We are writing to express our disdain over several recent comments you have made about the important issues facing voters in November, your total distortion of President Barack Obama’s record, and your complete flip-flop on certain core principles you once held dear,” said the letter signed by Democratic Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver of Missouri, the caucus chairman, and other members.
Davis’ decision to join the GOP was a punch in the gut for Democrats that have struggled to retain and expand their ranks in the Southern states.
A prime-time spot at the GOP convention makes a powerful statement when a former Obama supporter proclaims the failures and missed opportunities of the Obama Administration; the black caucus is worried so they’ve turned on their former colleague to save face.
Having Davis address the convention is a major win for the GOP that has fought, with little success, to attract African-American voters.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the GOP believes that the Obama Administration’s mismanagement of the economy could help entice minority voters to take a serious look at Republican policies.
The Congressional Black Caucus is not going to allow Davis’ moment in the sun to pass without stirring controversy.
In the letter, the caucus members outlined Davis’ past support for many of the Obama policies the GOP rejects, and said his shift stems from “transparent opportunism.”
The letter noted that Davis once considered Obama a friend.
Davis has made clear on numerous occasions that the policies of the Democratic Party had drifted far to the left and he could no longer support the direction it had taken. Much as was the case with other moderate Democrats, Davis simply felt there was no place for his views within the Democratic Party.
Davis, the man who once believed in Barack Obama could not in all good conscience support the president when his policies in office were so far from the moderate views he espoused in the 2008 campaign; Davis felt he had no choice but to support someone more in step with his views and joined the Romney bandwagon early this summer.
When Davis takes to the podium to proclaim his support of Romney and pro-growth policies, he won’t be the first former Democrat to do so; Joe Lieberman, once a Democratic vice presidential candidate, addressed the GOP convention in 2008 in support of John McCain.
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