Politics

Former Alabama Rep. Artur Davis could win Virginia seat, internal poll suggests

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Jeff Poor
Media Reporter

Artur Davis might actually have a shot at being the first politician in half a century to be elected to Congress in two different states.

Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf has represented his state’s 10th congressional district for over three decades. In the 2012 election cycle, he cruised to his 17th consecutive term by a healthy 21-percent margin, despite his district having gone to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a 1-percent margin.

Reportedly, Wolf has yet to indicate whether he will seek an 18th term and retire. But should he forgo reelection, the race for his successor will be wide open, according to preliminary polling — making it possible for even former Alabama Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, who switched political parties in 2012, to be elected in that district as a Republican.

With the exception of a brief spell in the late 1970s, Virginia’s 10th congressional district — which stretches from West Virginia to the outskirts of Washington, D.C. — has traditionally leaned Republican. But if Wolf were to retire, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would almost certainly have interest in an attempt to take the seat.

A survey conducted by a Republican polling entity on June 30-July 2 — with a sample of 432 and margin of error of 3.44 percent — shows no clear front-runner among a handful of potential Republican candidates that included Davis, Virginia State Sens. Jill Holtzman Vogel and Dick Black, Virginia State Dels. Barbara Comstock and Tim Hugo, and Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart.

The survey, commissioned by Davis and given to The Daily Caller by someone who has been shown the data and a polling memo connected with it, reveals Vogel and Black as front-runners but both coming in at under 17 percent with 31 percent of respondents undecided.

Those results suggest a contest that would be up for grabs, with Davis having at least a chance to pull off being elected to Congress in two different states — first as a Democrat in Alabama’s 7th congressional district, then potentially as a Republican in Virginia’s 10th congressional district. That is something that hasn’t been accomplished since Republican Texas-turned-New Mexico Rep. Ed Foreman did it in the late 1960s.

However, the key to winning the contest on the Republican side could require bucking conservative orthodoxy on some issues.

Respondents to the survey favored “a conservative willing to work with Democrats” over one “focused on ideological principals” by a 55-to-39-percent margin. It also showed respondents favored expanding background checks for those wanting to purchase a gun by a 48-to-33-percent margin.

The polling, however, didn’t show a desire for a Republican candidate with moderate positions that would improve electoral chances. Where it certainly didn’t show a divergence from conservative orthodoxy was on the current issue of the day — immigration. By a margin of 2-to-1, participants opposed a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally.

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