Former Alabama Rep. Artur Davis' relationship with his fellow Congressional Black Caucus members was always a rather prickly one. For starters, he entered Congress by using his Ivy League smarts to take down Rep. Earl Hilliard, who, no matter what one thought of his record or ethics, had served alongside them for 10 years. Davis also was a moderate, which, compared to many old-school CBC members, was downright subversive. Still, he was entitled to his views, so they took him as he was.
But now, many feel, Davis has gone too far. And on the day that he's set to deliver a major primetime speech at the Republican National Convention, 14 CBC members sent him a scathing letter disparaging his move to the GOP and his controversial stands such as his support for voter ID laws. In addition, they attribute his new party affiliation to sour grapes from the loss of a 2012 Democratic primary bid to become governor of Alabama.
"We are writing to express our disdain over several recent comments you have made about the important issues facing voters in November, your total distortion of President Barack Obama’s record, and your complete flip-flop on certain core principles you once held dear," the members wrote. "Given the magnitude of your recent transformation, we can only conclude that, rather than a true conversion, your actions are the result of a nakedly personal and political calculation or simmering anguish after failing to secure the Democratic nomination for governor of the state of Alabama in 2010."
The letter was signed by CBC Chairman Emmanuel Cleaver, Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn and Reps. Corrine Brown, G. K. Butterfield, Donna Christensen, Rep. John Conyers, Donna F. Edwards, Marcia Fudge, Barbara J. Lee, John Lewis, Gregory Meeks, Cedric Richmond, Terri A. Sewell and Bennie Thompson.
The group also called Davis' support for voter ID laws "unconscionable" and reminded him of his call in 2007 for the head of the Justice Department's voting rights division to resign because, as Davis said at the time, “you can't argue that voter ID laws don't disfranchise African-Americans.” The letter noted that while in Congress, Davis supported Obama's agenda "95 percent of the time" and that he expressed support for the president during his gubernatorial campaign.
In an interview with a Fox News affiliate in Alabama Tuesday morning, the newly minted Republican did not address the letter but said his conversion should not have come as a surprise.
"While in the Democratic Party, I was constantly attacked for being too conservative, for being a closeted Republican. Now that I've gone official, people profess to being shocked at that," Davis said. "I was a conservative Democrat; I'm a right-of-center Republican. I'm happy to be one."
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(Photo: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)