Artur Davis

*The pundits and the pollsters had all predicted that the race would be close. In fact, one late poll actually showed Congressman Artur Davis succeeding in his bid to become Alabama’s first African American governor.

Instead, he lost – badly.

Last week, white State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks won all the state’s predominantly white voting districts and took 11 of the 13 counties where Blacks are in the majority. He beat Davis by 25 percentage points.

Davis’ shocking defeat is his own fault. In anticipation of competing in the general election against a Republican in a conservative state, Davis spent the past year and the Democratic primary distancing himself from his own Blackness and from Black voters.

He made it clear he was going after the white conservative vote and that he took the Black vote for granted. He even refused to meet with members of the Alabama Democratic Conference – the state’s most influential group of Black politicians and decision-makers.

On the national level, he was the only Black member of Congress to vote against President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation. The Rev. Jesse Jackson said of that vote, “You can’t vote against health care and call yourself a Black man.” And that is apparently how Alabama’s Black voters felt about Davis. He was trying so hard to appeal to white conservatives that Blacks no longer recognized him.

During the campaign, Davis ignored issues of race and cast one conservative vote after another in Congress. He even voted to renew the Patriot Act – former President Bush’s signature legislation which many progressives felt took away a wide range of American freedoms. Last week during his concession speech, he looked shocked and perplexed. But the answer to why he lost is simple:  He took a gamble on disrespecting Black voters and pleasing white conservative voters and disappointed both. (source: Taylor Media Services – www.blacknewsjournal.net)