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Artur Davis, former prominent Obama backer, leaves Democratic Party

May 30, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • President Obama copes with the heat during a Memorial Day ceremony Monday.
President Obama copes with the heat during a Memorial Day ceremony Monday. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

Artur Davis, one of President Obama’s earliest supporters and a former co-chairman for his presidential campaign, announced Tuesday that he was leaving the Democratic Party for good.

In a post published Tuesday
on his website, Davis was vague about his future political endeavors, but declared: “If I were to run, it would be as a Republican. 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.”

Davis, who represented Alabama’s 7th Congressional District from 2003 to 2011, was notably the first member of Congress outside of Illinois to endorse then-Sen. Obama’s 2008 presidential bid. And it was Davis who seconded the official nomination of Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

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Along with making hints at the future, Davis reflected on his experiences as a Democrat, and condemned the path he believes the party is taking.

Renouncing the party “is no light decision on my part,” he wrote. “Cutting ties with an Alabama Democratic Party that has weakened and lost faith with more and more Alabamians every year is one thing; leaving a national party that has been the home for my political values for two decades is quite another.”

But “wearing a Democratic label no longer matches what I know about my country and its possibilities,” he said.

“On the specifics, I have regularly criticized an agenda that would punish businesses and job creators with more taxes just as they are trying to thrive again,” he said. “I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured: frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country.”

Given Davis’ previous stances on pivotal Obama policies, his departure from the party can’t be too much of a surprise. Davis was the sole member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against Obama’s healthcare reform legislation in 2010. He also ran a relatively conservative campaign for the governorship of Alabama in 2010, but failed to win a primary battle against then-Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, losing by a margin of 25 percentage points. After the loss, Davis declared he would no longer seek public office.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign has heralded Davis’ retreat from the Democratic Party as evidence of “mounting opposition among Democrats to President Obama’s campaign message and tactics,” in a release sent out Wednesday.

morgan.little@latimes.com

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