Former Congressman Artur Davis probably erased what little credibility he had left within the Democratic Party with his recent comments about gambling in Alabama.
Progressives for some time have suspected that Davis was a tool of conservative elites, and he proved them correct in an interview with Lagniappe, an alternative bi-weekly in Mobile. Davis, in so many words, trashed the Alabama Democratic Party for supporting taxed and regulated gaming in the state. Davis hinted that Democrats had sold out to gaming interests while Republicans, under former Governor Bob Riley, had reached for higher ground by opposing gambling.
Davis conveniently ignored the mountains of evidence showing that Riley was bought by Mississippi Choctaw gaming interests, who wanted him to protect their market share by keeping gambling out of Alabama. Davis also failed to note Riley's documented ties to GOP felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, who have admitted that they funneled $20 million into Alabama to help defeat gaming initiatives. And it had nothing to do with moral objections to gambling; it had everything to do with protecting the Choctaws' business turf.
We should note the curious timing of Davis' remarks. They were released on January 24 at the Lagniappe Web site, less than one week before the re-trial of the Alabama bingo trial was set to begin. The re-trial was moved back one week, to yesterday, because of the death of defendant Ray Crosby. Did our state's corporate elites, led by Davis' backers at the Business Council of Alabama, time the interview to help influence public opinion against the bingo defendants--and did the editorial staff at Lagniappe play along?
What exactly did Davis say about gaming interests and the Alabama Democratic Party? Well, he blasted the alliance, along with what he calls "black political interest groups." Gee, I can't imagine why voters handed this guy a 24-point spanking in the 2010 Democratic primary for governor:
"At some point in the last decade, the Democratic Party in Alabama seems to have decided that rather than being a diverse party, it’s going to become a party that’s pretty much controlled by narrow interest groups. And candidly what I observed in the last several years in my career was the Democratic Party in Alabama had pretty much fallen under the authority of the black political interest groups and the gambling industry. And that alliance between the gambling industry and the black political groups pretty much dominated every aspect of the Democratic Party. We couldn’t get around that alliance in our campaign. A good many other candidates who were running statewide couldn’t get around that alliance.”
Davis maintains that to succeed in the modern Alabama Democratic Party, one has to be liberal on national issues to accommodate the so-called "black interest groups,” but also set on expanding gambling within the state of Alabama.
"That’s not a broad enough platform to win in the state of Alabama,” Davis said. "It’s not a broad enough platform to move the state ahead substantively, and it’s certainly not a broad enough platform to win elections.”
Was Davis done bashing the Democratic base? Not by a long shot:
Throughout the last few decades, the powerful Alabama Education Association (AEA) teachers’ lobby has been a fixture in state politics and has been often seen as a bogeyman to state’s Republican apparatus. However, Davis said their role in his 2010 loss was (negligible). . . .
He explained that the AEA more or less became aligned with the state’s gambling interests, which the AEA viewed as a potential source of revenue for education in Alabama.
"What I observed in the last couple of years is that AEA – its politics aligned with the gambling industry,” he said. "Now some of that was understandable. Obviously AEA became very concerned about having extra funding for education and became very concerned about finding a new revenue stream to keep teachers’ pay at a certain level, and I basically think that led to an alliance forming between the gambling industry and the AEA.”
Davis, of course, gives Democrats no credit for at least being open about gambling and why they favor it. And he never takes Republicans to task for their hypocrisy on the issue.
Alabama Democrats have their faults, but they are pretty good at spotting a phony. That's why Artur Davis probably has no political future in our state.