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Obama Should Learn From the Artur Davis Debacle In Alabama

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Leura Canary

Leura Canary, perhaps the most notorious of the "loyal Bushies" permitted to remain after the Bush DOJ's 2006 purge of federal prosecutors unwilling to undertake dirty work, is still on the job in Alabama under the Obama administration as of now. Davis and the administration have all kinds of excuses about why they can't find anyone else. But they're ultimately responsible for filling such posts.

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Another factor in the Davis defeat is the Democratic Party's get-out-the-vote (GOTV) election-day machinery of the four black political groups and an overlapping network of black churches.

To understand what happened last week, it's useful also to recall how Davis was propelled into office in a 2002 primary win. Davis won with the help of heavy outside financing over black incumbent Earl Hilliard, who was perceived by a number of Israel's U.S. supporters around the country as not sufficiently supportive of their foreign policy goals.

The fault lines continued Tuesday, with Hilliard's son Earl Jr. winning Congressional Black Caucus and some local black and union endorsements to succeed Davis in Congress.

But the younger Hilliard narrowly failed to qualify for a run-off against the better-funded front-runner Terri Sewell, a Harvard Law friend of Davis who will face a second-place fininisher who serves on the Jefferson County commission.

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The level of intrigue in Tuesday's election is illustrated by a news report that fake guide ballots showed Reed's picture and Barack Obama's, along with false endorsements of Davis and a congressional candidate from the fifth district.

WHNT-TV in Huntsville reported the story as follows:

The idea of a fake guide ballot really irks Dr. Reed.

"This was an effort on the part of somebody to frustrate the ADC's endorsement and try to frustrate the people who look to the ADC ballot for guidance," said Reed, in a phone interview. "These evil doers are out there plotting, trying their best to undermine ADC and frustrate black voters. I think we've got to expose them and when we can, prosecute them."

To be sure, it's not clear who might have distributed the flyers, and elaborate tricks can come from anywhere on election days.

A larger lesson developing from all this is that political leaders in the national Democratic Party and the pundits who cover them should understand that the Davis debacle in Alabama illustrates how hungry the public is for real change that helps people.

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Democratic leaders who take the base for granted do so at their peril, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said last summer to the Progressive Democrats of America. My blog quoted the longtime Democrat from Detroit as predicting a one-term Presidency for his friend Obama unless he adopted harder-hitting and more progressive measures on such issues as health care.

An advantage of updating my initial report from Wednesday on the Davis primary is the opportunity to draw on the apt observations of others.

One is from Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson of the Locust Fork News-Journal entitled, "The Big Picture." (Also last week, he published a scoop on how BP is using foreign nationals detained in U.S. prisons as a cost-effective strategy for hazardous Alabama shoreline oil clean-up.)

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Andrew Kreig is an investigative reporter, attorney, author, business strategist, radio host, and longtime non-profit executive based in Washington, DC. His most recent book is "Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters," the (more...)

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