Davis done with politics

Published 11:12 pm Thursday, June 3, 2010

MONTGOMERY(AP) — U.S. Rep. Artur Davis said Thursday he’s through with politics after losing his bid to become Alabama’s first black governor, a stinging defeat that he blamed on his own inability to court African-American voters.

Davis also said he has no interest in an appointed government job, including the U.S. attorney’s post in his hometown of Montgomery. President Barack Obama has not filled the post. Some had wondered if it was being held open for Davis, a Harvard-educated lawyer who was Obama’s 2008 Alabama campaign chairman, in case he lost Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

And lose he did.

The Birmingham congressman pulled just 38 percent of the vote statewide against Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks and dropped 10 of the 12 counties in his 7th Congressional District.

“Democratic primary voters in this state sent a very clear signal that they rejected my candidacy,” Davis said in an interview.

Davis, 42, led decisively in early polls after he entered the race. Closer to election day, polls showed the race getting closer, but no one — including the two candidates — forecast Sparks’ lopsided victory.

Davis took full responsibility for his loss, including losing many majority black counties to Sparks.

“My campaign did not do a good job of making a case to African-American voters why I should be the Democratic nominee. A significant number of them did not believe a black could win election. To overcome that, I needed to make a compelling case why they should vote for me, and I failed to do it,” he said.

Davis was also criticized by some black leaders for being the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the federal health care bill and for not seeking endorsements from African-American political organizations.

“The accumulated weight of the attacks in the African-American community had an impact. I did not do a good job and my campaign did not do a good job of responding to those attacks,” Davis said.

Davis had been counting on the college-age voters and young professionals who helped Obama win Alabama’s presidential primary in 2008, but he said he failed to energize them into voting Tuesday.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman said voter turnout Tuesday was a surprisingly low 27.5 percent, with the majority of voters choosing the Republican primary rather than the Democratic primary.

Once the congressman ends his fourth term in December, he said he has no interest in lobbying or taking a corporate job and doesn’t expect to run for public office again.

He said he will resume the law career he had prior to his election in 2002. He said he and his wife, Tara, have not decided where that will be.

“I’m ready to move on to a career that will not enable me or give me an opportunity to significantly engage in politics,” he said.

Davis worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Montgomery after graduating from Harvard, but he said he has no interest in being U.S. attorney.

“That position is going to be filled, I hope, by a very capable lawyer named George Beck,” Davis said. Beck is a former assistant state attorney general who prosecuted one of the old Birmingham church bombing cases and defended Gov. Guy Hunt during his trial.

Contacted Thursday, Beck said he had heard the rumors about the U.S. attorney’s job being kept open for Davis. “But I don’t believe them for a second. I don’t believe Mr. Davis has any interest in being U.S. attorney,” he said.