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Artur Davis: 'Democratic Label No Longer Matches What I Know About My Country'

A once proud Democrat becomes a Republican.

10:39 AM, May 30, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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On his personal website, former congressman Artur Davis confirmed at least some of the recent rumors surrounding him—that the lifelong Democrat, the man who endorsed Barack Obama for president early in 2007 and seconded his nomination at the Democratic party convention in 2008, now considers himself a Republican. Here's Davis on his switch:

While I’ve gone to great lengths to keep this website a forum for ideas, and not a personal forum, I should say something about the various stories regarding my political future in Virginia, the state that has been my primary home since late December 2010. The short of it is this: I don’t know and am nowhere near deciding.  If I were to run, it would be as a Republican. And I am in the process of changing my voter registration from Alabama to Virginia, a development which likely does represent a closing of one chapter and perhaps the opening of another….

On the specifics, I have regularly criticized an agenda that would punish businesses and job creators with more taxes just as they are trying to thrive again. I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured: frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country. You have also seen me write that faith institutions should not be compelled to violate their teachings because faith is a freedom, too. You’ve read that in my view, the law can’t continue to favor one race over another in offering hard-earned slots in colleges: America has changed, and we are now diverse enough that we don’t need to accommodate a racial spoils system. And you know from these pages that I still think the way we have gone about mending the flaws in our healthcare system is the wrong way—it goes further than we need and costs more than we can bear.

Taken together, these are hardly the enthusiasms of a Democrat circa 2012, and they wouldn’t be defensible in a Democratic primary. But they are the thoughts and values of ten years of learning, and seeing things I once thought were true fall into disarray. So, if I were to leave the sidelines, it would be as a member of the Republican Party that is fighting the drift in this country in a way that comes closest to my way of thinking: wearing a Democratic label no longer matches what I know about my country and its possibilities.

Davis’s political evolution may not be that surprising. He was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against Obamacare. He ran for the Democratic nomination for Alabama governor in 2010 as a conservative. After losing the nomination, Davis announced he was becoming a political independent. His political commentary began popping up at places like National Review Online, criticizing Democrats for the same reasons he does today—the reliance on identity politics, the lack of respect for faith institutions, support for affirmative action, and a hostile relationship with business and entrepreneurs.

It seems it was only a matter of time before Davis made the change official. Still, the facts are that a rising star, a black Democrat from the Deep South, and an early supporter of Barack Obama found himself on the outside of the modern Democratic party, looking in, and disliking what he saw.

Davis's shift differs greatly from that of his fellow former Democratic congressman from Alabama, Parker Griffith, who switched parties to the GOP in 2009 when it looked more likely that Griffith could win his primary as a Republican than as a Democrat. Griffith was rewarded for what appeared as, and most likely was, a political calculation with a resounding defeat in the 2010 Republican primary. Should Davis decide to run for Congress in Virginia, Republican voters may greet his apparently thoughtful and principled decision with more cheer.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, a state Democratic committeewoman named Jo Ann Nardelli has also switched to the GOP, citing her Catholic faith and President Obama’s recent announcement that he supports gay marriage. The Altoona Mirror reports:

One of Blair County's prominent Democrats, Jo Ann Nardelli, said Wednesday she has switched her voter registration to Republican because she can no longer support Democratic initiatives like same sex marriage.

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