Davis gives straight talk
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2008
The issue: U.S. Rep. Artur Davis&8217; probable candidacy for governor.
Our position: It&8217;s early yet, but Davis will open much-needed conversations about issues.
Many of us in the state have begun looking forward to 2010. While that&8217;s a long way off, we&8217;re encouraged by the names that continue to come up on the list of possibilities for governor.
The next election will have a place in history for more than one reason. It is the first time since 1986 that an incumbent hasn&8217;t appeared on the ballot. The last time that happened, Gov. George Wallace opted not to seek re-election, leaving the field open for a seminal race in which Republican Guy Hunt defeated Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley. This election marked the first time a Republican won the governor&8217;s seat since Reconstruction.
Betting on sure things in politics is similar to betting on horses or dogs &8212; a lot of variables cloud the picture.
But this we know.
Davis is a shining star in politics. He has gained a national reputation because he has work hard to maintain an image of a man with feet in two different worlds.
Some paint him as an ultra-liberal Beltway insider, who has benefitted from his Harvard education (undergraduate and law degree) through associations with other up-and comers like the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. He already has suffered the slings and arrows of the opposition who have painted him as &8220;not black enough&8221; when they point to his Ivy League education and his work as an assistant U.S. attorney, who went after drug dealers.
At the other end of the spectrum, Davis grew up in one of the poorest areas of Montgomery, on
the west side, reared by his mother, a schoolteacher, and his grandmother. Other than working as an assistant U.S. attorney, Davis also has operated a private law practice that performed both civil and criminal defense work.
He certainly is in touch with this 7th Congressional District, as gerrymandered as it might appear. He speaks many times in absolutes, especially when talking about education and more particularly when he speaks of the Black Belt.
It is this kind of straight talk that draws attention,
not so much his background.
Resolve emanates from Davis as he talks about bringing jobs to this area and the needs of those who would bring high-wage, technological employment here. We simply do not have a strong enough public education system to support those industries, he says.
Then, he pounds you with facts: 41 percent of students in the ninth grade don&8217;t finish high school; 41 percent of graduating seniors do not go to college; 48 percent of college freshmen do not finish college.
It is that kind of frank discussion of Alabama &8212; her strengths and weaknesses &8212; that needs to come out of this next election.
Many will say the electorate won&8217;t stand for that kind of conversation.
Davis seems to think differently.