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Partisan politics not in Davis cup

DEMOPOLIS – Congressman Artur Davis was relaxing just a tad the day after his successful reelection bid for Alabama’s Seventh Congressional seat.

Relaxing, but not relenting.

“We’re pleased with the number of votes we got, but there was a lot of straight-ticket voting and we lost some votes because of that,” he said.

District-wide, Davis outdistanced Republican challenger Steve Cameron by a margin of almost three-to-one, easily reclaiming his seat in Congress.

Even with such a handsome victory, Davis seemed more unsettled about the votes he didn’t win. The straight-ticket voting,

when a voter casts each vote for the same party’s candidate in each race on the ballot,

is a sign of the partisan politics from which Davis has tried to steer away in Washington.

Davis ran 22 points higher than John Kerry in Marengo County and 15 to 17 percent higher than Kerry district-wide, meaning he received more of the cross-over votes than did the presidential ticket.

“What we have to do is get people past the straight ticket and a rigid partisanship,” he said.

While he may or may not be able to effect that sort of change among the voters of his district, it will be an area he’ll work hard on when he returns to the new Congress, now solidly in Republican hands after Tuesday’s election.

“It means we’ll continue to focus on bi-partisanship,” Davis said of the new U.S. House composition.

It’s a position he’s pushed well since his first election to the House.

“In the last Congress, I sponsored five bills, four of which passed both houses,” he said. “That couldn’t happen without bi-partisan support and setting partisan politics aside.”

His ability to span the gap between Republicans and Democrats has been recognized in Alabama. Gov. Bob Riley has asked him to chair the health care subcommittee of the Black Belt Action Committee.

Davis said he and Riley had spoken by phone Wednesday: “We had a good, cordial conversation this morning and we’ll continue to work together.”

“I think Alabama and the American people are interested in moving past partisan politics … and put the whole campaign behind them,” he said. “I’m going to be working with whoever is interested in building up the region.”

Building up the Black Belt will take leg some work and Davis said his top priority when Congress reconvenes will be “getting the lay of the land in the next Congress and sense of the President’s priorities.”

Among his immediate concerns were cuts in the federal budget.

“There could be significant cuts that could affect our region,” he said. “My hope is that the Bush Administration doesn’t pursue cuts in housing and rural development.”

“I’ll continue to focus on the economic interest in the district working to foster a climate that can bring jobs and bring in industry,” he added.

Focusing on economic growth is just a part of the equation, however. Davis, who drew some criticism during his campaign for jumping into the State Senate race between Demopolis City Councilman Thomas Moore, State Rep. Bryant Melton and State Rep. Bobby Singleton, hasn’t backed up from his commitment.

“I think it’s entirely appropriate to endorse people for office,” he said. “I’ve never questioned others’ rights to do so and I don’t think anyone should question my right to endorse a local candidate,” he said. “I think Thomas Moore is not just a good choice, but an outstanding choice for West Alabama … the difference between Moore and Singleton is that Moore is a unifier. Voters will make the choice and make their own decision about whether Thomas Moore or Bobby Singleton will make a good state senator,” he said.