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Davis earns 80 percent approval

More than three years ago, a young attorney from Birmingham asked for a chance to represent the 7th Congressional District of Alabama. He got creamed.

Artur Davis, who had next to no name recognition outside of his family reunion, lost to incumbent Earl Hilliard by 24 points. Two years later, Davis took another shot at Hilliard, and even then, Davis enjoyed little name recognition in this part of the state.

What a difference a year can make. A poll released this week — one year after knocking off Hilliard and taking office — shows Davis with 80 percent name recognition. He earned the same mark in his job approval rating.

“We’ve done the two things we said we would do,” Davis said from Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. “We said we would get involved in the issues that affected our district, and we said we would move around the district, providing services and being responsive.”

According to the poll, conducted by Anzalone-Liszt Research in Montgomery, 500 probable Democratic voters believe Davis has done his job, so far.

Two-thirds of all respondents — 68 percent — said they would vote to re-elect Davis, who apparently will face opposition in the Democratic primary on June 1. More important, Davis said, is the bi-racial support he has earned during his first year in Washington. Among black voters, Davis has a favorable rating of 82 percent. Among whites, the polls showed a favorable rating of 68 percent.

“The ability to work across racial and political lines has been one of the most pleasing things I’ve seen,” Davis said. “And I think that’s because we represent their values and we care about the issues people are talking about.”

One example of that came from a press release issued by Davis on Tuesday.

In the Alabama Legislature, State Rep. Gerald Allen has introduced a bill that would define marriage in this state as the union between a man and a woman.

Normally, federal politicians — like Davis — don’t dabble in the state politics. On this occasion, Davis felt he had to let constituents know how he felt about the issue.

“I am opposed to civil unions as well as homosexual marriage and believe that the Democratic Party will make a significant mistake if we do not clarify our position on these important questions of faith,” Davis said. “My party will not win the confidence of Alabamians to reform our schools and fix our healthcare system unless our people know that we share their faith in a world oriented by values.”

While Democrats across the United States differ on their opinions of the marriage institution, Davis felt it was important for citizens to know that he lines up with them on this issue.

“We cannot let the Republican Party claim issues of faith that we also believe,” Davis said.

In his re-election bid, it’s unlikely Davis will face strong Republican opposition. Rather, he believes the toughest hurdle of the race will come during the June 1 primary. At the same time, poll numbers suggest the primary may not be as difficult as it was in June 2002 when he defeated Hilliard in a run-off.

According to the Anzalone-Liszt poll, Davis has an enormous lead against two potential candidates. If he faced Albert Turner Jr., a county commissioner in Perry County, the poll suggests Davis would win 70 percent to 9 percent. Against State Rep. Eric Major, Davis would win 70 percent to 7 percent, according to the poll.

On Tuesday, Turner said he was not prepared to discuss his potential run for Congress quite yet. The number listed for Major, a former aide to Hilliard, was disconnected.

In May 2003, another poll found Davis with strong numbers among likely Democratic voters. In that survey, he enjoyed name recognition of 71 percent and had an overall favorable rating of 65 percent.