Former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis was considering a run for the Montgomery County Commission seat as a Democrat. One might think that a citizen seeking public office has the right to associate with the political party of his or her choice. In Alabama, this is not the case.
Alabama’s Radney Rule prohibits a candidate from running as a Democrat if he or she did not support the party’s nominees in the last four years. On October 16, Davis stood before the Executive Board of the Democratic Committee to request an exception to this rule, and was flat out denied.
Alabama's Radney Rule prohibits a candidate from running as a Democrat if he or she did not support the party's nominees in the last four years.
While some question Davis’ partisan flip-flop, He has openly criticized both parties:
After the 2010 Alabama gubernatorial election, he changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican primarily because of his approval of a Voter I.D. law and disapproval of the Affordable Care Act, which drew wide criticism from fellow Democrats.
Notably, he has never run for office as a Republican.
Without complete support of either party, one might think Davis would consider registering as an independent. However, according to the Washington Post, he said “Alabama is not friendly to independent candidacies.”
On November 18, Montgomery County Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs dismissed Davis’ case against the Executive Board of the Democratic Committee, finding that the court had no reason to overrule the committee’s decision to disallow Davis from joining the Democratic Party.
Davis argued that the party’s denial of a waiver regarding the state’s Radney Rule violated his right to due process, considering that under similar circumstances, other candidates were allowed to re-join the party.
According to the Montgomery Advisor, Democratic Committee Board member Johnny Ford cites the following as some of the reasons they voted against Davis:
“[Davis] indicated that he criticized the Democratic Party and acknowledged that he criticized President Obama and voted against the Affordable Care Act.”
It could be argued that Ford’s statement reflects the party’s view, as well as that supporting party policies under any circumstances is what the party demands.
Davis served as a Democrat in Congress, supported Republican Mitt Romney, and once ran as a nonpartisan candidate in Montgomery, Alabama. From his previous actions, it would seem that Davis moves across the political spectrum and is not limited by partisan lines.
In the end, Artur Davis’ exclusion for not playing the partisan game and Alabama’s Radney Rule are classic examples of how the two major political parties, as currently structured, encourage divisiveness and promotes exclusionary policies.