Artur Davis — ex-legislator, lawyer, and son of the South — has added another label to his lengthy resume: Turncoat.
Davis, the former congressman from Alabama and one of the first black elected officials to publicly support President Barack Obama, stunned colleagues by announcing that he is bolting from the Democratic Party to become a Republican in Virginia.
It’s a shocking move for any Democrat to switch to the GOP, but it’s particularly scandalous for a black Democrat.
Davis, the 45-year-old visiting fellow at Harvard Institute of Politics, said he plans to vote for Mitt Romney in November and claims he may also run for office again.
“If I were to run, it would be as a Republican,” Davis wrote on this website. “And 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.”
The Romney campaign intends to capitalize on Davis’ defection as a high-profile black-on-black rebuke of Obama and Romney may welcome Davis with open arms since the campaign plans to start aggressively courting black voters. Davis, who was born and raised in a poor Montgomery, Alabama neighborhood, could be Romney’s first black pitch man to the black community.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, however, implied that Davis is a complete sell-out — a sentiment also shared by many black Democrats across the country.
“Some people are being cynical and are saying …he’s just switching parties because he knows he can’t win as a Democrat,’” Limbaugh said on his radio show. “I don’t care. I listen to what he’s saying. This is an African-American who is setting himself up for Uncle Tom status. This guy is going to join the ranks of Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas and Shelby Steele. He’s going to be persona non grata in the Democrat Party.”
But one of Davis’ closest friends, Glen Browder, a former U.S. congressman, said Davis views himself as a leader for all people, not just African-Americans.
“Davis has his own ideas about who he is — and who he is not,” Browder wrote for The Huffington Post. “He is not a child of the movement that stormed the segregated southern citadel in the 1950s-60s. I also have many friends among the beaten and bloodied veterans of the movement; and they consider him a recipient of their struggles who has turned his back on his people.”
In what many described as a painful 2010 election, Davis lost his bid to become the first black governor of Alabama largely because black voters rejected his candidacy. So did Davis switch parties to get back at black folks by aligning himself with a Republican Party that does not care about African-Americans?
By any conventional measure, Davis' defection defies logic.
“In defeat, we have seen the real Artur Davis — a man with no principles, and no understanding of what it means to be a statesman and public servant,” Alabama state Rep. Craig Ford told reporters. “Artur Davis has no principles, and will say anything to advance his own career.”
Only time will tell if Davis decides to embrace the new GOP proposal — “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good” — which calls for flooding the nation with commercials that paint Obama as a radical who surrounded himself with an “unbalanced spiritual advisor” Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.
The $10 million plan says that GOP leaders have already contacted Larry Elder, a black conservative radio host in Los Angeles, about serving as their spokesman, and the plan also calls for a group of black business leaders to endorse the effort.
The proposal also includes a strategy for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting and the group suggested hiring as a spokesman — an “extremely literate conservative African-American” — who can argue that Obama duped the nation by portraying himself as what the proposal calls a “metro sexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
Davis may fit in perfectly with his new Republican cronies.