Davis to make announcement in January

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2008


U.S. Rep Artur Davis said he’ll likely make a run for the governor’s seat in 2010.

Davis talked about the upcoming election during an interview in his Selma-based office Tuesday afternoon. The Democrat, who represents Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, left about an hour later to hold a town meeting in Marion.

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“We’ve been looking at it very seriously,” Davis said when asked about plans for a gubernatorial race.

His name will appear on the ballot this fall for re-election to Congress. While that happens, Davis will look at a couple of things: To see if his team can accomplish more in Alabama than in Washington and if he’ll have the support, particularly money, to run the statewide campaign.

Davis said he believes his team can raise the money needed to become competitive in the Democratic primary. After that, the money should come in from traditional and non-traditional donors.

Davis is no stranger to raising money for political campaigns. He is co-chairman of the “Red to Blue,” a program by which Democrats urge donors in non-competitive races to give directly to other Democrats in more heated races elsewhere in the country.

And, Davis has apparently taken the temperature of voters in the state about the possibility of a run for governor.

The Southern Political Report recently referred to a poll run by Anzalone-Liszt Research in Montgomery. The Report said Davis would lead or come close to four others who might be Republican candidates for governor, including Community College Chancellor Bradley Byrne; Luther Strange, who ran for lieutenant governor, Mike Hubbard, the state House of Representatives minority leader and Attorney General Troy King.

In the poll, Davis’s numbers were within the standard margin of error against every candidate. He trailed King and Hubbard only and led Byrne, according to The Report.

“Right now, what we’re seeing from the state, there’s a very, very good chance we’ll enter the governor’s race in 2010,” he said.

It’s an opportune time for several reasons.

Leading the list: No incumbent will appear on the ballot. This hasn’t occurred since George C. Wallace left the governor’s mansion in 1986 and Guy Hunt beat Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley. It also marked the first time a Republican won the governor’s seat since Reconstruction.

Davis sees this election as a similar pivotal point for the state and knows well he’ll be among a stable of seven or eight who want the same goal.

But he’s also encouraged at what he sees.

While Alabamians typically vote Republican in presidential and, sometimes, for U.S. senators, most vote Democratic party for their county commissioners, legislators, sheriffs and probate judges. “They’ve gotten accustom to splitting their votes,” Davis said.

This could pull some voters over into his camp in 2010.

Another indication of voter strength would rest in how Alabamians cast their ballots in the presidential election. Democrats have given up a majority of the vote to the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain. However, during the last two decades, the high Democratic vote has been about 43 percent or a little more.

A Democratic candidate for governor could expect about six or seven points more than that when November 2010 rolls around.

Not bad for an open race.

But don’t go confusing Davis with U.S. Rep. Barack Obama. They might have studied together at Harvard, but the Alabama congressman is quick to say, “I am my own man.”

A look at his voting record shows Davis is more middle-of-the road than the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. And, he’ll tell you that himself.

He has voted with a majority of Democrats 96.8 percent of the time during the current Congress, according to the Washington Post.

In a recent split with the party, however, Davis voted in favor of the

granting legal immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Bush administration&8217;s program of wiretapping without warrants, which is a GOP-supported move. He also voted for the Protect America Act, a controversial move for many Democrats, last summer that contained similar language.

The message Davis wants to send is clear: “If I run for governor, I’m going to talk about who I am and what I believe,” he said.

And if?

Davis said he’ll make the announcement in January.