Davis won’t campaign for Sparks

Published 10:37 pm Monday, August 16, 2010

MONTGOMERY (AP) — U.S. Rep. Artur Davis says he won’t campaign for Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who beat him in the Democratic primary for governor.

“While I congratulate him for running a campaign that ultimately resonated better with the Democrats than mine, I am convinced that the party’s nominee, Ron Sparks, is no champion of real change,” Davis said in an article he wrote for the Montgomery Advertiser’s editorial page Sunday.

Sparks said Monday he was “disappointed and hurt” by the comments, but not surprised.

He said it’s customary for candidates in Alabama to telephone the winner on election night and congratulate them, but he never heard from Davis after winning the primary June 1 with 62 percent of the vote. Sparks said he waited eight days and called the Birmingham congressmen to congratulate him on a hard-fought campaign and say that he welcomed any ideas on issues important to Davis.

“He said he was going to support the Democratic Party, and I accepted him at his word,” Sparks said.

Davis also skipped another custom — appearing with the winner at the first meeting of the state Democratic Party’s executive committee after the election. That meeting was Saturday in Montgomery, and Davis said he didn’t go on purpose. In his view, “the forces that dominate my party have turned into the same conservative anti-reform elements that I went into politics to oppose.”

Davis, who leaves office in January, criticized Sparks for not joining him in advocating tougher ethics laws.

“There is no evidence that Sparks himself is corrupt — but it is telling that Sparks’ response to the embarrassing probe of vote-buying in the Legislature was to continue to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from the very gambling industry under investigation,” Davis wrote.

Davis cited the Republican nominee, state Rep. Robert Bentley, for running the best race in the primary, but he said, “It is not my place to endorse Rep. Bentley’s campaign.”

Sparks said he will focus on his issues, such as creating an education lottery, and not on Davis‘ criticism. “Artur has been a good public servant, and I have nothing bad to say about him,” the Democratic nominee said in an interview.