Rep. Artur Davis has lost his bid to become the first black elected governor in Alabama. The anti-gay conservative Birmingham Democrat—who boasts an abysmal 45 percent Human Rights Campaign score—largely ignored black voters and catered toward Republicans. That strategy failed with Democratic primary voters—about half of whom are black—and Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks "stomped Davis" with more than 60 percent of the vote, CNN reports.
Had the four-term congressman come out on top, he could have become Alabama's first black governor and only the third elected black governor in United States history. The historical implications of a Davis victory were not lost on the Deep South. A black man could have taken the oath of office near where Gov. George Wallace declared "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" in his 1963 inaugural address and where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as president of the Confederate States of America in 1861. Davis, much to the chagrin of black political leaders, had no interest in focusing on the symbolism.
But it wasn't just the clout of the black establishment that made some black voters question Davis. "Artur Davis did do something to make black people not want to vote for him, and that is his 'no' vote for health care reform. Even before the black political groups stepped in the picture and refused to endorse him, he had already established a negative relationship with some of the black voters," said Angela Lewis, an associate professor of black political behavior at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Davis was the only one in the 42 member Congressional Black Caucus to oppose the health care reform bill. Davis' majority black congressional district in Alabama is one of the poorest in the country and boasts the state's highest HIV/AIDS rates.
Davis has been a reliable anti-gay vote. Davis was the only black congressman to oppose extending hate crime protections to LGBTs. Davis was the only black congressman to oppose the historic ENDA vote in 2007. (Clarke and Towns voted "no" because it did not include transgender protections.) Davis abstained from voting on last week's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act.