Don't Call It An Artur Davis Comeback

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 22 2012 12:49 PM

Don't Call It An Artur Davis Comeback

TNR's Alec McGillis jokes: "All y'all reporters who relied on Artur Davis for endless blind "House Dem" quotes attacking Obama better get some more while you still can."

He's referring to Rosie Gray's report that former Rep. Artur Davis, a Democratic star who ran right and bombed out of the 2010 Alabama gubernatorial primary, is being urged to become a Republican and run for Congress in the Virginia's swing-ish D.C. suburbs. The timeline: The next four years. Reached via e-mail, Davis sort of confirmed it.

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"Without getting into the specifics of the story," wrote Davis, "I recognize that I would have to climb a lot of hurdles to reenter politics in a new state and a new party. While people who believe in me regularly encourage me to get back in the fray, I am nowhere near a decision to do that."

The district in question, VA-11, was held by moderate Republican Tom Davis for years. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat, took it in 2008 and held it narrowly against the 2010 wave. He has demographics on his side -- the suburbs, bolstered by good economic growth, are getting bluer. It really is the sort of district you'd carve out for a black Republican. It's fairly hard to achieve what Davis did in Alabama 10 years ago, and primary a liberal (in this specific case, anti-Israel) black incumbent in a heavily black district.

If you're a talented black politician with no strong ideological affinity, better to run as a Republican, and court activists who are practically obsessed with proving that they're racially transcendent. Michael Steele, a pro-life but pretty heterodox politician, could never have won a statewide Democratic primary in Maryland. But he rose and rose in the GOP until the Peter Principle finally kicked in. Well, that and the ire of countless enemies.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.