Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008

The Alabama Comer: Artur Davis

When Artur Davis was 10, his mother took him to the Alabama state capitol building, which also happened to be the first capitol of the Confederacy. Surveying all the faded photographs, he decided he'd grow up to be a political reporter and someday cover the President. Things haven't worked out that way. Like a rocket, Davis attended Harvard, where he got two degrees, then clerked for a federal judge and spent four years as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama. He first ran for Congress in 2000 but never "caught on, for whatever reason" in his heavily black district. Undeterred, Davis prepared for a rematch while serving as a political commentator on a local Fox-television affiliate. In 2002 he ran again and beat a popular incumbent with 56% of the vote. In his six years in Washington, Davis, 41, has blocked cuts to public-housing programs and minority land-grant colleges and co-authored a bill to build an interstate highway through Black Belt counties. "Our state is going to be an enormous challenge for Obama in the general election. I have no illusions about that," says Davis, who endorsed Obama in the primary. "But just as Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice helped pave the way for Barack Obama, Barack Obama's candidacy is paving the way for other black candidates to run in their states." Davis' eyes are increasingly on the governor's mansion.

— Jay Newton-Small