“I do receive encouragement from friends to join the Republican Party and to get into politics in the [northern Virginia] area, but I recognize the challenges of reentering politics in a new state and a new party, and am nowhere near taking those challenges on,” Davis told The Fix. “If I did, I would have a lot to learn about this region and a lot of people to meet, and frankly, would need a lot of help from people in this community.”
Should he choose to stand for election, he would run against Gerry Connolly in the Virginia 11th. Weigel notes the district seems ideally suited for Davis:
The district in question, VA-11, was held by moderate Republican Tom Davis for years. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat, took it in 2008 and held it narrowly against the 2010 wave. He has demographics on his side — the suburbs, bolstered by good economic growth, are getting bluer. It really is the sort of district you’d carve out for a black Republican. It’s fairly hard to achieve what Davis did in Alabama 10 years ago, and primary a liberal (in this specific case, anti-Israel) black incumbent in a heavily black district.
However, there are good reasons to believe he’d have his work cut out for him. First, the new parts of the district including Dale City and other parts of eastern Prince William County, while they have less of an affinity for Connolly, they’re not as economically stable as the rest of the district and a less-than-ideal place to test out his positions on affordable housing, welfare reform, and voter ID laws. Still, it’s a district that went for McDonnell by four points; in a wave year it could very well swing Republican again.
Connolly held on by a mere .4 percent in the 2010 midterm elections–in other words he won handily in 2008 thanks to Bush backlash and nearly lost thanks to Obama backlash. As a longtime Northern Virginia resident, my impression generally is that the district is to the left of where Davis is, but maybe not by much. His national stature would certainly help in a general election, as would a solid endorsement from Tom Davis, Connolly’s Republican predecessor.
This mean-spirited piece at the Atlantic Wire mocks his honest centrism as traitorousness. But unless his rightward shift was planned career move informed by the racial calculus of him being a “black Democratic critic of Obama” that’s a pretty uncharitable assessment. Various attempts to paint him as either doctrinaire for his positions on voter ID, or opportunistic, for being the go-to black critic of Obama, just don’t match the man himself. When I asked him back in October about his bipartisan campaign donations he was very careful to express that his donations had more to do with his personal affinity for the candidates than their positions on any given issue.