Artur Davis

Artur Davis
Artur Davis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Earl Hilliard
Succeeded by Terri Sewell
Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama
In office
Personal details
Born October 9, 1967 (1967-10-09) (age 44)
Montgomery, Alabama
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Tara Johnson
Residence Birmingham, Alabama
Alma mater Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Harvard University (B.A.)
Religion Lutheran

Artur Genestre Davis (born October 9, 1967) is a former member of the United States House of Representatives for Alabama's 7th congressional district, serving from 2003 to 2011 when he was succeeded by Terri Sewell, also a member of the Democratic Party.


Early life, education, and early career

Davis was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, and was raised by his mother and grandmother. He graduated from Jefferson Davis High School and then magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1990 and received his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School before returning to Alabama. He was the recipient of the Best Oralist Award in the esteemed Ames Moot Court Competition at Harvard Law School.

After working as an intern at the Southern Poverty Law Center and then as a civil rights lawyer, he served as an assistant United States Attorney.

U.S. House of Representatives



Davis ran for the House in the Democratic primary against 10-year incumbent Earl F. Hilliard. He criticized Hilliard for taking a trip to Libya in 1997 despite U.S. sanctions, but Davis lost the 2000 election 58%-34%.


Davis ran again in 2002 and was elected. He assumed office in January 2003. During the campaign, Hilliard notably questioned whether Davis was "black enough" to represent the district. Despite these attempts to divide the African-American vote, Davis defeated Hilliard narrowly in the primary, which required a runoff in June. He won the runoff easily, assuring him of victory in November in the heavily Democratic district.


He was challenged in the 2004 primary by Albert Turner Jr., a son of a leader of Selma's "Bloody Sunday" march and in the 2006 primary by political new-comer Eddison Walters. He easily won the challenges 88%-12% and 90%-9% respectively. He has only faced Republican opposition once, in 2004; he won easily with 74 percent of the vote.

Artur Davis meeting Alabama troops preparing to leave for Iraq war, 2003 (US House photo)

In the new Democratically controlled 110th Congress, Davis was assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means. The stature of that appointment, and the difficulty of raising sufficient funds, led Davis to postpone plans to challenge conservative Senator Jeff Sessions in 2008. In January 2007, Davis said that he was still interested in running on a statewide ticket in 2010, either for Governor, or for Senate if Richard Shelby elects to retire.[1]

Davis delivers a seconding speech formally placing Barack Obama's name in nomination during the third day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

In 2007 he became the first Congressman outside Illinois to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president in 2008.[2] At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Davis gave a seconding speech formally placing Obama's name in nomination.[3]

Davis's name surfaced in media speculation as a potential Attorney General in Obama's cabinet.[4][5] However, Davis was quoted in The Birmingham News as stating that he did not anticipate such an offer, and would refuse it if made.[6]


Davis was appointed to the Senior Whip Team for the Democratic Caucus of the 109th Congress and was the co-chair of the centrist House New Democrat Coalition, as well as the Southern Regional co-chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

As a freshman, he led the successful fight to reverse funding cuts for minority land grant colleges including Tuskegee University.[7] As a second term member, Congressman Davis won a floor fight to restore funding to the HOPE VI program for renovating public housing; he persuaded over sixty Republicans to vote with Democrats to save HOPE VI. In 2005, the congressman was the lead Democratic sponsor of a bill establishing a national cord blood bank, which will widen the availability of blood transfusions for thousands of patients who suffer from diseases such as sickle cell anemia and diabetes.[8] He received an A– grade on his voting record relating to veteran issues from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.[9]

Davis was the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to demand that former House Ways and Means chair Charlie Rangel surrender his gavel in the wake of ongoing ethics issues.[10]

Davis twice voted against Democratic-supported health care reform legislation, first in November 2009,[11] and again in March 2010 when the legislation passed and was signed into law by President Obama.[12] He was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the legislation in March 2010;[12] he was also the member from the most-heavily Democratically-leaning district to vote against the legislation.[13]

Committee assignments


2010 Gubernatorial bid

On February 6, 2009, Davis announced his candidacy for Governor of Alabama in 2010. His opponent in the Democratic primary was Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks.[14]

During the primary campaign, Davis downplayed matters of race and emphasized his independence from Democratic party orthodoxy. He caused controversy, including within his heavily minority congressional district, by voting against President Barack Obama's new health-care law—the only black Democrat in Congress to do so. He also refused to sit for the endorsement screenings of Alabama's black political groups, drawing criticism from some that he was an opportunist in search of white votes.[15] As a result, he became described as "the first African-American candidate in a statewide Alabama race to lose the black vote."[16]

On June 1, 2010, Davis lost the Democratic primary to Sparks, ending his gubernatorial bid. Afterwards, he announced he was retiring from politics and would return to private practice at the conclusion of his 2009-2011 term.[17] Davis was succeeded in Congress by fellow Democrat Terri Sewell, the first African-American woman elected to the United House of Representatives from Alabama.

Electoral history

Alabama's 7th Congressional District House Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Artur Davis 153,735 92.44%
Libertarian Lauren Orth McCay 12,100 7.28%
Alabama's 7th Congressional District House Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Artur Davis 183,408 74.97% -17.47%
Republican Steve Cameron 61,019 24.94% +24.94%
Alabama's 7th Congressional District House Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Artur Davis 133,870 99.04% +24.07%
Alabama's 7th Congressional District House Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Artur Davis 228,518 98.63% -0.41%
Alabama's Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ron Sparks 199,558 62.44%
Democratic Artur Davis 120,050 37.56%

Personal life

Davis resides in Birmingham, Alabama.


  1. ^ Orndorff, Mary, "Davis Won't Run for Senate in '08, but 2010 Race Another Matter." The Birmingham News, January 8, 2007, p. 1A.
  2. ^ by Howard FinemanFebruary 16, 2008 (2008-02-16). "Fineman, Howard, "Part of Something Larger," ''Newsweek'', Feb. 25, 2008". Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  3. ^ "Balz, Dan and Kornblut, Anne, "Democrats Nominate Obama," ''The Washington Post'', August 28, 2008, p. A1". 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns - US Attorney General Race - Jan 20, 2009". Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  5. ^ "Snyder, Jim, "Door Opens on Cabinet Speculation," ''The Hill'', November 5, 2008". Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  6. ^ "Gordon, Tom, "Davis Says Obama's Total in Alabama Doesn't Mean a Black Candidate Cannot Win Statewide Race," ''The Birmingham News'', November 6, 2008, p. 1B". 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  7. ^ Orndorff, Mary, "House OKs Davis' Amendment to Restore Land Grant Funds," The Birmingham News, July 15, 2003, p. 6B
  8. ^ "Marrow, Cord-blood Databank OK'd," The Birmingham News, December 17, 2005, p. 4D
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Crabtree, Susan (2010-03-02). "Davis calls on Rangel to give up tax chairmanship after ethics finding". Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  11. ^ "The most important number in politics this weekend". The Washington Post. 
  12. ^ a b Bacon Jr., Perry (2010-03-24). "Rep. Artur Davis seeks to become Alabama's first African American governor". Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  13. ^ Sirota, David (2010-03-21). "The 10 most courageous (and 10 most cowardly) House Democrats - The Numerologist". Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  14. ^ Reeves, Jay (2009-02-06). "Artur Davis Seeks To Be Alabama's First Black Governor". Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  15. ^ "Ron Sparks Tops Artur Davis | Alabama Voters Oust Black Gov Candidate". 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Artur Davis through with politics after loss". Associated Press. 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Earl F. Hilliard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Terri Sewell

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