A former Democratic congressman who recently switched political parties said millions of Americans are abandoning President Obama because of the liberal policies being pursued by the White House. In remarks at Heritage’s Bloggers Briefing and during a sitdown interview, former Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama discussed his political transformation.
“If you’re in the Democratic Party, if you don’t think the same on about five or six or seven issues as the mainstream of your party, you are as much out to lunch as any moderate Republican would be and many people can testify to that,” Davis said. “That’s not simply part of my story; that’s part of the story of many Democrats.”
Davis served four terms in the House as a Democrat representing the Birmingham area. An early supporter of Barack Obama, he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of Alabama in 2010, which he lost to then-state agriculture commissioner Ron Sparks.
Two years later, Davis said he is one of many Americans who supported Obama in 2008 but has been disappointed with his job performance and pursuit of a progressive agenda. He announced on his blog last month that he was joining the Republican Party and registering to vote in Virginia, where he now lives.
“Yes, it is a little bit unusual for someone who used to be a Democratic elected official to switch parties,” he said, but predicted the more liberals continue to make their arguments, the more people will move toward conservatism.
“We don’t really have to heckle the other side. We don’t really have to shout down the other side. We don’t have to cut the president off at his press conferences,” he said. “The more the other side keeps talking, the more the other side keeps making its arguments, the more people are beginning to move our way. I firmly believe that.”
Davis called the number of moderate Democrats serving in elected office “perilously low.”
While serving in Congress, Davis joined many of his fellow Democrats in criticizing former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. When Gonzales resigned in 2007 amid an investigation into the dismissal of several U.S. attorneys, Davis released a statement saying he would be “regarded as one of the least distinguished attorney generals in a generation.”
He indicated regret for that hard-line position Tuesday when asked to comment on the ongoing controversy surrounding current Attorney General Eric Holder, who is facing a contempt vote by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“We kind of personalized it a little bit and we made a lot of it about Attorney General Gonzales and frankly, sometimes we seemed so mad at [Gonzales] that people stopped hearing what we were saying about how U.S. attorneys were selected and dismissed,” he said. “I think we made a mistake in doing that, so I’m not going to bend over backwards to the other side and make the same mistake.”
But Davis said he doesn’t understand some of the Justice Department’s priorities, pointing to the Roger Clemens trial, the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running program, voter ID laws and the recent trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards.
“Fast and Furious is something I have a very hard time understanding,” he said, noting that when he served as a junior prosecutor in Montgomery it was a basic principle not to let guns and drugs leave in the hands of criminals. He said Republicans are “absolutely right” to investigate the operation.
He also said the same Department of Justice that is suing three states over voter ID laws won’t let people far past their guards without them showing an ID. An undercover investigation by PJ Media and a subsequent report from Project Veritas revealed the department’s ID requirements.
“We are accustomed to presenting ID. I don’t think it bothers anybody. I don’t think it disenfranchises anybody,” he said.