U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, defeated candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, not only refused to endorse Ron Sparks, who defeated him, but called his opponent “no champion for real change” in an op-ed he wrote recently for the Montgomery Advertiser.
In hindsight, we ask: Is that sort of post-primary criticism the best way for Davis to bring “real change” to his party?
Regardless, Alabama Republicans must have loved Davis’ harsh words. If that made GOP faithful giddy, they surely enjoyed it even more when Davis skipped the first meeting of the state Democratic Party’s executive committee after the election because, he wrote, “the forces that dominate my party have turned into the same conservative anti-reform elements I went into politics to oppose.”
Some of those executive committee members supported Davis in the primary election, yet the congressman kept his disparagement of his party’s old-line factions fairly quiet until now. So, what will they do now?
If Alabama Democrats are to present a unified front in order to hold onto the power they enjoy in the state Legislature and recapture the governor’s office, the party does not need this sort of divisiveness.
Of course, Democrats in Alabama’s Statehouse aren’t known as a watertight ship. Their deep involvement and abuse of power in the two-year college scandal was deplorable. Plus, Montgomery D’s don’t have a sparkling record on the floor of the House and Senate; recent legislative sessions have been beset with examples of ineffective leadership, with Democrats shouldering much of that guilt.
Nevertheless, Davis — regardless of his thoughts about his party — would have needed those same Democratic lawmakers on his side had he won his party’s nomination. Like it or not, he would have had to find a way to reconcile his criticisms as he and his party sought to defeat Republican Robert Bentley in November.
Still, Davis is hardly the first candidate to feel pain following a political defeat. Traditionally, the loser calls to congratulate the victor, yet Sparks said Davis did not pick up the phone. And not only did Davis fail to attend the first meeting of the party’s executive committee, he cut himself loose from the Democrats who are trying to rally their supporters to defeat the GOP in November.
How many people will Davis take with him? How many will follow his lead and stay home on Election Day? Or, after his kind comments about the campaign waged by the GOP’s Bentley, how many Davis Democrats will vote for the Republican?
A united Republican Party stands a better chance when Democrats are divided and dispirited. Artur Davis’ comments and actions surely give the GOP more hope. Just how many votes it will cost Democrats remains to be seen, but surely it will cost some.