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Artur Davis Goes to Court to Get Back Into Democratic Party

Former Democratic Congressman Davis speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Should a desperation move to crowbar his way into local politics fail next week, former Rep. Artur Davis may attempt to drag Democrat leaders before the state Supreme Court.  

“If I’m successful, we’ll be taking our case to voters in District 1,” Davis told the Montgomery Advertiser . “If I’m not successful, there’s another court down the street I’d be willing to talk to, the Alabama Supreme Court. If I’m unsuccessful in the judicial process, then I’m unsuccessful.”  

Having already been denied readmission to the Democrat Party — Davis famously switched teams in 2012, a gambit that earned him stage time during the GOP convention that year — the four-term House lawmaker Oct. 30 turned to a circuit court judge for relief, filing a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against political leaders currently blocking his bid for a seat on the Montgomery County Commission.In order to officially challenge incumbent commissioner Dan Harris, Davis originally needed to have his paperwork accepted before the qualifying deadline formally expires Friday at 5 p.m.  

An aide to Montgomery County Circuit Clerk Tiffany McCord confirmed that a hearing has been scheduled for the following Monday.  

Montgomery County Democratic Chairwoman Tyna Davis said the commission, which in October overwhelmingly voted against welcoming the former congressman back into the fold based on his party-switching past, doesn’t expect this to be settled anytime soon.  

“We would be willing to accept that he filed on time. That’s not the issue here. The issue is our following the ‘Radney Rule,’” she told CQ Roll Call, referring to a unwritten rule named for late Alabama state Sen. John Thomas Radney that allows Alabama Democrats to pass on candidates who have supported opposing parties within the past four years.  

Artur Davis argued in the motion that the party was doing him a grave disservice.  

“In light of the Party’s apparent failure or refusal to accept my qualifying papers and fee, I am being denied the opportunity to preserve my underlying legal challenge to the Party’s failure to reinstate me to the Democratic Party," the Montgomery Advertiser reported.  

CQ Roll Call left messages for Artur Davis in various locations but was unable to reach him for comment.  

The ex-congressman has reached a truly bizarre crossroads in a once-promising career: waging all-out war to even be considered a candidate.  

He came up short in his first attempt to join the legislative branch, losing a 2000 race to replace sitting Alabama Democrat Earl F. Hilliard (the incumbent reaped 58 percent of the vote that fall).  

Two years later, Davis came out on top, besting Hilliard in a closely fought primary (56 percent to 44 percent) before winning the general election with 92 percent of the vote. Davis enjoyed three additional terms in Washington, but began weighing other opportunities. He briefly considered challenging Republican delegation mate Jeff Sessions for his Senate seat. In February 2009 he mapped out plans to become the first black governor of Alabama; fellow Democrat Ron Sparks cut short that dream by knocking Davis out of contention in the primary.  

Davis left Congress in early 2011. But he would resurface a changed man.  

Come May of the following year he was in league with the GOP, arguing that “the Democratic label no longer matches what I know about my country and its possibilities.” Living in Northern Virginia at the time, he mulled tossing his hat into the ring to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf.  

That campaign never materialized. Instead, Davis moved back to Alabama and set his sights on becoming mayor of Montgomery. Incumbent Todd Strange held on to the post in August; Davis finished second, with his current opponent, Harris, securing third place.  

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