Artur Davis — the black politician who memorably left the Democratic Party after serving four terms in Congress and later become a Republican — is now contemplating a mayoral run in his hometown of Montgomery, Ala.
In an op-ed, Davis said he plans to set up an exploratory committee for the 2015 Montgomery mayoral race. If “it reports that the resources and grassroots support are there, I am in,” he says.
“I don’t underestimate the obstacles,” said Davis, who left Alabama and has had a complicated political history since he left Congress in 2011.
Elected to Congress in 2002, Davis was a classmate of President Barack Obama while at Harvard Law and was an early supporter of his presidential campaign. In fact, during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, he gave one of the nominating speeches in support of Obama.
But in 2010, everything changed when Davis surprisingly lost the Democratic nomination for governor. Having voted against Obamacare while in the House, Davis battled with certain elements of the black Democratic establishment in Alabama.
After his loss, Davis moved to northern Virginia, renounced his membership in the Democratic Party and became a Republican. Not only did he endorse Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in 2012, he delivered a rousing speech in support of the GOP ticket at the national convention in Tampa.
Earlier this year, Davis flirted with the idea of running for Congress in Virginia as a Republican, though ultimately decided against doing so, citing the difficulty of running in a conservative Republican primary.
Now mulling the option of returning to Montgomery, where he was born, Davis realizes his path since leaving Alabama could be problematic.
“I know I will have to explain to African Americans just what this party switching business was about, and why being a Republican doesn’t mean that I have lost my heart for struggling people who can’t catch a break,” he said.
According to the 2010 census, Montgomery is 56.6 percent black.
As for moving back to Alabama from Virginia, Davis also acknowledges that “while I spent the first 31 years of my life in Montgomery, and married a Montgomery girl, none of that will spare me the carpetbagger attack.”
Should he run, Davis suggests he will try to distance himself from both the Democratic and Republican parties.
“The familiar left versus right debate is too exhausted, too stale to manage any of these problems,” Davis said. “The last thing we need is to import the false choices in Washington into a Montgomery election.”
Montgomery has a mayor-council system, and its elections are non-partisan. Todd Strange, the current mayor, has not yet indicated whether he will run for re-election in 2015.
“So, my campaign won’t rehash what federal policies have and haven’t worked,” Davis said. “Instead, my agenda will be solutions that answer to the test of effectiveness rather than ideological purity.”