Republicans on Wednesday were celebrating the defection to the GOP this week of a former Democratic congressman and close ally of President Barack Obama, saying that it underscored their argument that the president has led the country on a march to the left.

Former Alabama congressman Artur Davis, once a rising star in the Democratic Party and the man who helped put Obama’s name in nomination for the presidency in 2008, announced his intention to switch parties and said that he will vote for Mitt Romney in November.

“The fact that he has the courage to analyze the problems with the current administration on the issues of unifying diverse interests in America and creating jobs tells me this is a guy with a lot of principle,” said Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, R, who said he plans to call Davis in the next few days to welcome him to the party.

Davis, a centrist who opposed the Democratic health-care bill, said he may run for elected office as a Republican in Virginia.

Republicans saw in Davis’s announcement potent confirmation of their charge that Obama has failed to spark economic growth or deliver on his promises of fostering more national unity, both central planks of Davis’s critique.

In Virginia, Republicans saw in the black Harvard graduate an appealing potential candidate who could shake up the growing Democratic sway in northern Virginia.

“All I can say his analysis of the problems facing America are spot-on and his credentials are impeccable,” said McDonnell. “That’s a great start for being a candidate in northern Virginia or anywhere else in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Davis’s drift from the Democratic Party had been building for years, and Democrats dismissed his desertion as a tactical shift by a politician with wounded ambitions: Davis left Congress after he ran for governor of Alabama two years ago but failed to win his party’s nomination for the job.

But Davis’s political profile, his past vocal support of Obama and his pointed critique of the Democratic Party do create an opening for the GOP. Davis was the first congressman outside the president ‘s home state of Illinois to endorse Obama in 2007.

In an interview, Davis said he believes there is little tolerance in Democratic politics for “center-right” views like his own.

“The conventional wisdom in this town is that the Democrats have stayed in one happily tolerant place and that Republicans have moved to the hard right,” Davis said. “I can assure you that in the Democratic Party, there is substantial intolerance for people who deviate from the party line.”

As an example, Davis cited widespread criticism from the left of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who apologized last week after saying on “Meet the Press” that he disagreed with attacks by the Obama campaign on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s record as a former executive at private-equity firm Bain Capital.

“The timing of that was purely coincidental,” Davis said. “But it certainly was exhibit number 32 of the point I’m making.”

Davis’s move came as the ranks of moderate Blue Dog Democrats in Congress have been thinning because of member retirements and electoral defeats at the hands of candidates on both the left and right.

It also came as Republicans have been working to highlight and promote black GOP lawmakers: There are two black Republicans serving in the House, and the GOP feels good about its chances of electing its first black woman, Mia Love of Utah, in November.

Davis was a vocal opponent of the Democratic health-care bill — the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against it. In a statement, he decried what he described as the Democratic embrace of identity politics and said he he believed the nation’s lack of economic growth was a larger problem than the “exaggerated inequality” Democrats have emphasized.

Davis also criticized Obama for failing to unite the country as he promised.

“When you run for office and the main qualification you offer is that you can break stalemate and gridlock, and it doesn’t happen and it gets worse, I think you have you be judged by that standard,” he said in an interview.

A spokesman for the Obama campaign declined to comment. But Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., whom Davis confirmed he might challenge in 2014, said voters widely understand that Obama has been confronted with a “mindless, implacable” opposition of a Republican Party unwilling to ever compromise.

“I think Mr. Davis, in his bitter disappointment with the response to his ambition in his own party, is looking for a scapegoat. And I think he’s looking in the wrong direction,” Connolly said. “I think it says a lot about Mr. Davis. I don’t think it says anything about President Obama.”

An Alabama native, Davis said he has lived mainly in Virginia since late December 2010. He served 10 years in Congress. In 2010, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Alabama governor, emphasizing his willingness to challenge party leaders, but he lost the primary 62 percent to 38 percent to agriculture commissioner Ron Sparks, who went on to lose to the Republican nominee.

Davis lives in Pentagon City but said he’s had conversations with Virginia Republicans about running for Congress in 2014 or 2016 from a variety of seats — or seeking election to the Virginia General Assembly in 2015.

He said he may also choose never to run for elected office again. If ambition were the true motivation behind his public statement, he said, he’d have announced a run as a Republican in Alabama, where the party is dominant, instead of in hotly contested Virginia.

Other moderate Democrats said that Davis is unlikely to find a more receptive home in the Republican Party and could struggle to win support in Virginia’s conservative GOP.

In a lengthy statement explaining his party switch, Davis noted that he disagrees with the GOP’s hard-line stance on immigration and its resistance to closing some tax loopholes.

“I don’t believe, based on what I’ve seen with regard to the tea party and the Republican Party, that they are any more accommodating to centrists than the Democratic Party is,” said Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, a moderate Democrat defeated in a party primary in April by a more liberal candidate.

But Altmire added that both parties need to engage in self-reflection about better reflecting centrist views.

“At the electoral level, there are people who are trying to purge the moderates — both from the left and right,” he said. “I think there needs to be some soul searching.”

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., said he sympathized with Davis’s diagnosis of the problem but was puzzled by his solutions.

“I, too, have a lot of reservations and criticisms of the current Democratic Party . . . but the Democratic Party comes a whole lot closer to my views than the current Republican Party, which I see as dominated by an extremist conservative ideology rooted in the past,” he said.

But McDonnell said the Virginia party is a big tent where Davis will be welcome.

“It’s the Reagan test,” he said. “If you agree with me 80 percent of the time, you’re my friend.”

30 replies on “Republicans cheer Artur Davis’s defection to GOP”

  1. They did say they were searching for an “extremely literate conservative African-American” to shield them from cries of racism.

    1.  I can think of four off the top of my head: Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Shelby Steele , and Condoleeza Rice. Your point is?

      1.  You’ve made my point by coming up with a laundry list. Republicans seek black conservatives to point to so they can try and prove they’re not racist.

    2. It does not suit your narrative, but the quote you referrence is attributable to Fred Davis noted for creating incendiary ads.   Davis is not a GOP spokesperson and Romney has repudiated Fred Davis’ proposals for attack ads. 

      If you want to tar the GOP as racist by quoting one individual, may I refer you to Harry Reid”s observation concerning Obama: a  ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it in private.

      I would suggest you can find both democrats and republicans saying dumb things that do not reflect the views of the vast majority of the members of either party.

      1. The article is about Republicans in general, that’s clear from the very title of the article. And look below this comment, Republicans are desperate to have examples to point to to demonstrate that they’re not racist and that racism doesn’t exist within their party.

        1. The article is about the deficiencies or lack of leadership in the White House and why a close ally of the president is serperating himself from the lack of leadership and failing policies of the current democratic party leaders.

          1. Like what’s with this ignoring reality stuff? It’s ridiculous. The title reads “Republicans cheer…” The article is about Republicans, not Republican leaders or Republican politicians, but Republicans in general cheering this politician’s defection. That’s it. You don’t get to point to the grass and say it’s not green.

        2. Why do you ignore the Harry Reid comment? (To say nothing of the Biden comment).
          And do you mean “racist” in the same sense as Sheets Byrd?? Or Ted Kennedy?

          1. I’m responding to the topic at hand which is Republicans cheering on Davis’ defection. This isn’t a discussion about which party has bigger racists.

          2. Oh, Republicans cheerfully concede that point: they have
            nobody to match Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Maxine
            Waters… heck, Eric Holder.

            Incidentally, has any prominent member of the Obama administration yet suggested that the New Black Panthers were a little over the edge in offering a ‘bounty’ on George Zimmerman?

          3.  You can keep point elsewhere, but it remains that Republicans do seek black conservatives to shield them from complaints about racism. We can’t be racist, we have Cain and we like his 999 plan. I didn’t say every Republican is racist, but that there are specifically seeking black representation.

            And how is Obama in any way tied the New Black Panthers? They’re both black? LOL.

          4. The way I read it here, only Rs are racists.  And often: if you’re an R, you’re a racist.

        3.  No they aren’t.  It says more (about you, and every other Racism! accuser) that you are fixated on this.  You are projecting, but the good news is that there is help available.  Good luck in your quest.

          1. Hahahaha, nice logic you have going there. So anybody who acuses anyone else of anything is that thing themselves? So from the DA acuses someone of murder, that means the DA him/herself is guilty of murder?!

            Sounds like you’re the one that needs the luck.

      2. Or how about Biden saying that Obama was the first clean well spoken african american or how about KKK Robert Byrd.  The racism cries are not heard anymore and the racist cry does not silence our speach anymore.  If there is one thing that Obama has accomplished is that crying racism doesnt make it so anymore.  Thank you Mr. Obama.

  2. I didn’t read the whole story.  Blah, blah,blah.  Mr.Davis criticized President Obama for failing to unite the country?  Mr. Davis?  Do you know Mitch McConnell?  Remember that guy?  He’s the guy who said his main job in the next four years was to insure President Obama is a one term president.  Hmmmm, ya’ think that might have anything to do with our country failing to be united in anything?

    *puts on my conspiracy helmet*  Perhaps Mr. Davis is really going to be a Democrat plant to seek Republican office?  Hmmmmm…. ;>)

  3. Even Obama’s closest allies are jumping ship. This does not bode well. And for good reason. As Davis stated, this is not Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party anymore. In fact, Bill Clinton would be labeled a racist and right-wing baby killer for some of the policies he championed – like welfare reform and the end of big government. Don’t be surprised if Clinton actually abstains from attaching himself to this sinking ship.

    Blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, unions, etc. – all historically liberal – are starting to realize that they were doing much better before Obama. His rhetoric was grand, his policies are a disaster. As JFK stated, a rising tide lifts all ships. Obama has created a perpetually sinking tide. 

    1. Hahaha! Blacks are realizing it was better before Obama? Like how they’re being targeted through restrictive voting laws by Republicans? Hispanics are better when they’re being told they should “self-deport” themselves? Women being told they don’t deserve equal pay or an equal healthcare standard? Gays being told they don’t deserve to serve openly in the military or have any couples’ rights?

      What a joke your post is.

        1. I wasn’t the one who brought up identity politics. I simply responded to refute tag’s ridiculous claims.

  4. SO, lamestream media, where are the mountains of columns and hours of shows, decrying the fact the far-left has taken over the Democratic Party?? We certainly have been treated to years of you wailing about “all the “nasty rightwingers” who have made the Republican Party untenable (supposedly).
    But who cares. Political games. And politics is personal.  I simply THANK GOD that I escaped from the party that I worked long and hard for, back in the 80s and early 90s.   THANK GOD I got out of the Democratic Party, I say.

  5. At least he is supporting Romney right now.  The good thing is that he will now rub elbows with people who believe differently and conservatively and maybe some of his left-leaning views will be swayed by his new counterparts!  RINO might apply here, but any shift in the conservative direction is good for all of us!

  6. Holler !  Jump !  Shout AMEN !  Do anything you want, but this guy was my representative in the 7th district of Alabama.  I would be the last person to get enthused by his joining my ranks.
    In more than two years of writing to him about problems in Alabama’s 7th, I received no reply.  Not even the automatic, computer generated, intelligence insulting message I get from his replacement, who is also the same rubber stamp for the democRAT leadership that he was.

    He thought that it was time for a black man to ride the coattails of Obammie to the Governors Mansion down here, but even the constituants of his 80% black district turned him down.

    So go on and applaud.  But you better think twice about electing an opportunistic, tell-em-what-they-want-to-hear guy like Artur. 

  7. Well, here’s a “change” with some “hope.”  After all the mindlessness you see coming out of the Congressional Black Caucus it’s wonderful to see a man who is using his brain to make the big escape.  God bless you, Mr. Davis.

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