Artur Davis was never going to have an easy time becoming the first black governor of highly white, highly Republican Alabama. But in the end, he wasn't even able to make it past the first round, losing to Ron Sparks in last night's primary by a significant margin, after having dominated in the polls up until the eve of the election. How did such a charismatic and well-qualified pol, once considered a rising star in the Democratic party, allow his entire political career--his seat in Congress, his gubernatorial aspirations, his favor in national politics--to fizzle out?
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Alabama political veterans say his major error was seeking to distance himself from Democrats--and particularly influential black organizations--at an early stage in the campaign, sacrificing principles for politics and taking for granted the very people who ultimately turned on him. Davis assumed--or took a huge gamble--that the historical promise of becoming Alabama's first black governor would be enough to rally his base--despite black leaders' endorsement of his white opponent--and that he could pre-emptively move to the right ahead of the general election in at times craven ways. He was wrong.