Artur Davis considers bid for Virginia Senate or Congress


Former congressman Artur Davis speaks during the 2012 Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Toni L. Sandys/THE WASHINGTON POST)
January 26, 2013

RICHMOND — Former congressman Artur Davis, who represented Alabama as a Democrat before moving to Virginia and the Republican Party, is considering a bid for the Virginia state senate or Congress, according to three Republicans with knowledge of his thinking.

Davis has met with a Virginia campaign consultant and several operatives to assess the viability of running for state Senate in 2015 or seeking the U.S. House seat held by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) if the congressman retires, according to two of those people, who asked not to be named in order to discuss a private matter. He has no intention of challenging Wolf, they said.

The third person, former Republican congressman Tom Davis, confirmed that Artur Davis talked to him recently about possible runs for various offices, including state Senate.

“If there’s a Senate seat that’s winnable, I’m sure he’d be interested,” said Tom Davis, who represented Northern Virginia. “He’d be an instant star.”

Davis, who lives in heavily Democratic Arlington, is said to be considering moving into a more competitive district. Reached via e-mail Saturday, he declined to comment.

“More and more people are moving into districts to run,” Tom Davis said. “Twenty years ago, that didn’t happen.”

The Virginian-Pilot reported that a new Senate map the GOP rammed through the chamber Monday has Artur Davis considering a Senate bid from Northern Virginia, perhaps for the seat held by Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax).

Tom Davis and the two other Republicans familiar with Artur Davis’s thinking said his interest in the Senate predates the surprise redistricting plan. Artur Davis is said to have been exploring his options since late December.

But the new map, which makes several districts more favorable to Republicans, seems to have moved his planning to the front burner.

“Republicans have told Davis that the map requires potential Republican candidates to get a stronger head start given that the affected Democratic incumbents will be ramping up their efforts, and that if it stands, it has upped the timetable for decision-making, given the certainty that a number of local Republicans will be looking at these districts too,” one of the Republicans familiar with Davis’s planning said via e-mail.

The redistricting measure creates a new majority-black district in Southside but also dilutes the black vote in at least eight other districts, making them more heavily Republican. The plan still must get past the House, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and a near-certain legal challenge from Democrats before it could take effect in 2015.

Time in the state Senate could help Davis establish himself for voters as both a Virginian and a Republican, several political observers said. In 2008, when he was still a Democratic congressman, Davis heartily seconded the nomination of Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. He went on from there to lose a bid for Alabama governor, move to Virginia and declare himself a Republican — one featured speaker at last year’s Republican National Convention.

“He would be a very strong candidate for anything he wants to do, and I think right now he’s earning his stripes,” Tom Davis said.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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