Republicans on Wednesday were celebrating theÂ defection to the GOPÂ this week of a former Democratic congressman and close ally of President Obama, saying that it underscored their argument that the president has led the country on a march to the left.
Former Alabama congressmanÂ Artur Davis, once a rising star in the Democratic Party and the man who helped put Obamaâ€™s name in nomination for the presidency in 2008, announced his intention to switch parties and said that he will vote for Mitt Romney in November.
â€œThe fact that he has the courage to analyze the problems with the current administration on the issues of unifying diverse interests in America and creating jobs tells me this is a guy with a lot of principle,â€ said Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), who said he plans to call Davis in the next few days to welcome him to the party.
Davis, a centrist who opposed the Democratic health-care bill, said he may run for elected office as a Republican in Virginia.
Republicans saw in Davisâ€™s announcement potent confirmation of their charge that Obama has failed to spark economic growth or deliver on his promises of fostering more national unity, both central planks of Davisâ€™s critique.
In Virginia, Republicans saw in the black Harvard graduate an appealing potential candidate who could shake up the growing Democratic sway in the stateâ€™s D.C. suburbs.
â€œAll I can say is his analysis of the problems facing America are spot-on and his credentials are impeccable,â€ said McDonnell. â€œThatâ€™s a great start for being a candidate in Northern Virginia or anywhere else in the Commonwealth of Virginia.â€
Davisâ€™s drift from the Democratic Party had been building for years, and Democrats dismissed his desertion as a tactical shift by a politician with wounded ambitions: Davis left Congress after he ran for governor of Alabama two years ago but failed to win his partyâ€™s nomination for the job.
But Davisâ€™s political profile, his past vocal support of Obama and his pointed critique of the Democratic Party do create an opening for the GOP. Davis was the first congressman outside the presidentâ€™s home state of Illinois to endorse Obama in 2007.
In an interview, Davis said he believes there is little tolerance in Democratic politics for â€œcenter-rightâ€ views like his own.
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