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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Davis at D-trip?

Last month I talked about Artur Davis' impressive political ascent and his ambitions for higher office. Now national publications are talking up Davis for a promotion within the ranks of House Democrats.

The insider D.C. publication Rollcall mentioned Alabama's own Artur Davis in a recent article. Davis is being mentioned to take over the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when the current chair steps down. The DCCC is the political arm of the House Democratic Conference; it is responsible for helping recruit, fund, and strategize for congressional races. Though the chair of the DCCC is appointed by the Democratic leader (currently Nancy Pelosi) it is often thought of as one of the handful of top leadership positions and a stepping stone to higher positions, (whip, leader, speaker?).

The DCCC is currently headed by Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) who is getting rave reviews. It is possible that Emanuel could step down after the 2006 elections or serve another two year term beginning in 2007. But whenever the DCCC chair is next vacant, Artur Davis is one of the names mentioned to fill it.

From the article:
Like Emanuel, Reps. [Artur]Davis, [Chris]Van Hollen and [Kendrick]Meek are in their second terms and viewed widely as rising Caucus stars with solid political know-how. Van Hollen is spearheading Democratic candidate recruitment this cycle, while Davis is a regional recruitment chairman and Meek is a committee vice chairman.

Davis said he's "given no thought" to chairing the DCCC or taking up another leadership slot, adding that he believes Emanuel "is the best chair we've had."

"I don't spend a lot of time thinking about leadership goals," Davis said. "Clearly there are a lot of people here who have been here a lot longer than I have. I'm focused on being a good, committed Member."
Davis has had a meteoric rise since his 2002 election and this is further evidence that he is seen as leadership material by Democrats in Washington as well as Alabama. It is much too early to know whether Davis is likely to be the DCCC chair in the near future. But the very fact that his name is mentioned by his colleagues shows the depth of respect and faith his colleagues have in him.

Of course if Davis was DCCC chair, he could possibly help recruit and fund Democratic candidates taking on Alabama Republicans. Joe Turnham, for one, can tell you that Alabama Democrats aren't always first on the priorities list for the national Dems. But with Davis in the leadership, more help might be forthcoming for a strong challenger to someone like Mike Rogers.

Of course on the flip side, if Davis establishes himself as a leader in the House Democratic Conference, a run for governor or senate would probably go by the wayside. Now I have my doubts about whether Davis could win statewide, but he is certainly one of the stronger Alabama Democrats. The further Davis moves up the leadership ladder, the less likely that he'll run statewide.

Davis, at 38 years old, is much younger than most of his colleagues. He has plenty of time to pursue his political goals. But there does seem to be a crossroads facing Davis in the not so distant future. Davis looks certain to continue his ascent into the Democratic leadership (whether or not he ever heads the DCCC) if he is so inclined. But if he is indeed interested in a senate bid (or even running for governor), he'll have to forgo all that just to take a shot at a possible promotion.

Whatever his decision, Artur Davis is not only one of the hottest Democratic prospects in the state, but also the entire country.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Davis strikes me as an odd choice to run the DCCC. Normally, DCCC chairs are chosen for their fundraising ability/potential. Hence, they need to have access anc connections to big-city money in NY/CA/IL... Why would Davis, who represents one of the country's poorest congressional districts be chosen for a primarily fundraising position?

Also, if he's currently recruitment chair for the South, I presume, what kind of job has he been doing? I haven't really heard too much about Democratic recruits down there...

I'd like to see more of Davis, but I'm just not sure that the DCCC is the place for him and, as you point out, it would further limit his ability to seek statewide office in AL.


6:33:00 PM  
Blogger PoliSciZac said...

I think that's a good point, sean. The DCCC might not be the best use of Davis' potential.
He did raise alot of money to win in 2002, but that was more a reflection of hostility among certain groups toward Hilliard. I think he's been a strong fundraiser as an incumbent, but probably not to the level that a DCCC chair would need be.

I don't know too many details about what he's actually done in recruiting candidates in the South. I know Democrats have a strong candidate to run against GOP incumbents Clay Shaw in Florida and Charles Taylor and Robin Hayes in NC. But to say that Davis is responsible for those candidacies is probably a stretch.

More than likely Davi's position as a recruitment chair is primarily an effort to involve more members in the process. I doubt that he has too much power to entice potential challengers. I am not sure a phone call or visit from some backbencher would motivate many people to run.

However, I do think that if Mike Rogers doesn't have a credible Dem challenger (as looks increasingly likely) then Davis should probably take some responsibility for that.

I think though that the main thing to take away from the Rollcall article is that Davis is viewed by the powers-that-be in the Dem caucus as an up and comer. DCCC might not be the best place to put him, but I do think if he decides he wants the House to be his platform then Davis is almost assured of advancing into the highest levels of the leadership.

Also, I meant to throw in one caveat to the idea that Davis couldn't hold a House leadership position and then make the leap to a statwide run. Trent Lott was the GOP Whip in the House and then decided to run for Senate in MS. So it has been done before, but it is definitely the exception.

Good points, Sean. Thanks for the post.

8:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

look for davis to run for governor in 2010. But he now advocates an absentee ballot scheme for those displaced by katrina. can you imagine the roman holiday of vote fraud this brings to louisiana, a state already known as the most corrupt political entity this side of the globe?

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