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Black Democrats express disdain for Artur Davis' flip to GOP

August 28, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro

TAMPA, Fla. -- Democrat-turned-Republican Artur Davis, the former congressman, is set for a prime-time address to the GOP convention, and his one-time colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus are not pleased.

Fourteen members of the black caucus wrote to the Alabama political leader to share their disapproval as Davis is prepared 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.

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Veteran civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis of Georgia was among those penning their names.

Davis' decision to join the GOP was a substantial shift for the one-time rising Democratic star, who had been a prominent Obama supporter. He left Congress in 2010 for a failed race for governor.

Democrats have struggled to retain and expand their ranks in the Southern states, and after the loss, Davis turned to the GOP.

Tuesday's prime-time address gives the GOP a powerful visual -- an African American former Obama supporter critical of the president.

GOP leaders have struggled to attract black voters, and a recent poll showed black support for Mitt Romney, the presumed presidential nominee, at a largely unmeasurable 0%.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in Tampa that the economic downturn could help the GOP attract minority voters to Republican policies.

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The influential Congressional Black Caucus was not about to let the moment pass unnoticed.

In the letter, the members outlined Davis' past support for many of the Obama policies the GOP rejects, and said his shift stems from "transparent opportunism" as Davis considers his next political race for office.

The letter noted that Davis once considered Obama a friend.

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lisa.mascaro@latimes.com

Twitter: @LisaMascaroinDC

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