Updated: Superdelegate Davis slow to endorse Obama

Friday, June 13, 2008 at 3:33am
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Some Tennesseans wonder why Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-Pall Mall) is waiting until the Democratic National Convention in August before endorsing his party’s nominee for President. Courtesy of lincolndavis.com

The rise of Sen. Barack Obama, to become the Democrats’ presidential nominee has put most of his party’s faithful on his bandwagon — but not Lincoln Davis, a rural Tennessee Congressman with gubernatorial ambitions.

Davis (D-Pall Mall) is not yet endorsing the presumptive nominee in Obama, saying he’ll wait until the late August Democratic Party national convention.

In Davis’ sprawling 4th Congressional District — which ranges from as far west as Hickman County to as far east as the upper Cumberland Plateau — less than a quarter of Democrats in the largely rural district voted for Obama, the nation’s first African-American presidential candidate nominated by a major party, in Tennessee’s presidential primary.

Davis, a rural white Congressman, represents two-dozen counties — 21 in their entirety and three in part — including Williamson’s southwestern corner.

In February’s Tennessee Democratic primary, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) won 23 of those 24 counties, garnering 68 percent of the vote compared to Obama’s 23 percent. Obama won only Williamson County.

When examining the 21 counties resting entirely within Davis’ district, Clinton’s numbers rise from 68 percent to winning 73 percent of the vote. Obama won a meager 18 percent.

The situation presents perhaps a unique political situation for Davis. He is withholding his endorsement of Obama while he prepares to face a Republican challenge for his conservative “swing” district that overwhelmingly supported Obama’s rival.

Meanwhile, Davis has gubernatorial ambitions for 2010, in which Tennessee political history strongly suggests the Democratic strongholds of Shelby and Davidson counties with their large groups of black voters are a must for his or any Democrat’s aspirations for statewide office.

Fred Hobbs, a state Democratic Party Executive Committee member representing part of Davis’ district, said he understands why Davis is not endorsing Obama and is “skeptical” of the Illinois senator himself.

“Maybe [it’s] the same reason I don’t want to — I don’t exactly approve of a lot of the things he stands for and I’m not sure we know enough about him,” Hobbs said when asked why he thought Davis wasn’t endorsing Obama. “He’s got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be.”

Davis was not made available for comment.

His chief of staff, Beecher Frasier, said he doesn’t know for sure if Obama is “terrorist connected” but he assumes he’s not.

Frasier denied that Davis was withholding his endorsement of Obama for political reasons, saying Davis believed that was how the superdelegate system was intended to work.

“You look at his profile — he’s very independent,” Frasier said. “I mean he is a Democrat, but he certainly fits the district very well, and that’s his priority is the 4th Congressional District.”

In Tennessee, Davis is not the only Democratic superdelegate withholding their endorsement of the party nominee. U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Murfreesboro) and former Vice President Al Gore have also not endorsed Obama.

But earlier this year, Davis acknowledged he had been supporting a one-time Obama rival — John Edwards — who has now endorsed the presumptive nominee.

In February, Davis allowed that he had been supporting Edwards before the former North Carolina senator dropped out of the race. He called the remaining presidential candidates at that time “leftovers.”

Despite Frasier’s assertion, political considerations are likely figuring into leading Tennessee Democrats like Davis’ calculations, said John Vile, a political science professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

Vile said given Tennessee Democrats’ affinity for Clinton, there’s “fear” among some Democratic leaders like Davis to not become too supportive of Obama. He noted that polls currently have Obama doing well nationally and he could become an inspirational figure like Franklin Delano Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy.

But Vile said there’s a risk he could become another Democratic presidential candidate who didn’t appeal to average Americans, which may be keeping Davis at arms-length.

“It may be that he’s just sort of keeping some distance in order to make sure he’s not tied permanently to someone who might eventually be regarded as a second George McGovern,” Vile said of the Democrats’ 1972 presidential nominee who lost in a landslide to Republican Richard Nixon.

John Rowley, a Democratic political strategist working with Davis, said there was “no political calculus” involved with the congressman’s lack of an Obama endorsement.

“I don’t think anybody really makes themselves or breaks themselves by a member of Congress getting involved in a presidential race,” Rowley said.

During the 2006 election cycle, Davis didn’t allow much distance between himself and former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. when Ford was running for Senate. Davis raised his statewide profile as the chairman of Ford’s campaign, appearing with the charismatic Ford as he nearly became the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.

An election cycle later, another charismatic black candidate in Obama won handily in urban areas where African-Americans are more predominant. In Shelby County, for example, Obama garnered an overwhelming 70 percent of the vote. In Davidson, he received 60 percent.

To win in a close statewide election, Democrats historically must win the black vote in Tennessee.

Frasier said Davis’ chairmanship of Ford’s Senate campaign would help him with black voters despite his withholding of an Obama endorsement.

“He traveled this whole state with Harold,” Frasier said.

MTSU’s Vile dismissed the notion that Davis would have trouble with black voters in 2010 as a result of keeping distance from Obama.

“I think he has plenty of time to mend fences, assuming that he will probably eventually go with the Democratic candidate,” Vile said.

Randy Button, a former state Democratic Party chairman who has known Davis since at least 1994, said he doesn’t know why Davis is withholding his presidential leanings. But Button has had that feeling before, saying the 64-year-old farmer is “anything but predictable.”

“I’m not sure,” Button said. “Maybe he’s holding out for Obama to call him to be his running mate.”

UPDATE #1

The Tennessee Democratic Party issued the following statement Friday morning in response to this story:

“The Tennessee Democratic Party is united behind our party’s nominee, Senator Barack Obama. Mr. Hobbs is obviously misinformed, and his statement highlights the perpetual efforts of the Republican Party, especially here in Tennessee, to turn internet smears and highly offensive gossip into their party’s message against Senator Barack Obama as we head into the General Election. Instead of debating the issues, the Tennessee Republican Party continues to rely upon slanderous and salacious tall tales. They are borrowing from the playbook first written by Richard Nixon and employed in the race against Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Tennesseans of every political persuasion are tired of these tactics.”

UPDATE #2

Beecher Frasier, Chief of Staff for Rep. Lincoln Davis, issued this statement clarifying his position:

"No one in their right mind, including me, believes Senator Obama has ties to terrorism. It is truly ridiculous for anyone to try to make hay out of these comments."

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Smart move. Obama still has way to much time to lose the nomination.With friends like his (Obama) you don't need enemies.As an independent conservative I will take a serious look at Davis if Frist is his opponant.

By: HenryB on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"Terrorist connected"? Who is this Hobbs moron? Here we go, the politics of fear.

By: sarabellum on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Lincoln Davis has a carved-up region designed to ensure a Democrat retains the office. He hasn't done anyting in Congress until this past year, right around the time he first made it known he was considering a run for Governor. He's certainly not someone I'd like to see governor of this state.

By: sarabellum on 12/31/69 at 7:00

And Henry, the "Hobbs moron" as you you call him is, according to the article, "a state Democratic Party Executive Committee member representing part of Davis’ district."

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

It kills me when the media calls Obama an African American. OBAMA IS NOT AN AFRICAN AMERICAN. HE'S MIXED DAMMIT.

By: HenryB on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Sara: I understand Hobbs' identifier in the story. It just amazes me that such fools actually have a platform. Of course, look at the fool who's had the White House platform for more than 7 years ...

By: WickedTribe on 12/31/69 at 7:00

“Maybe [it’s] the same reason I don’t want to — I don’t exactly approve of a lot of the things he stands for and I’m not sure we know enough about him,” Hobbs said when asked why he thought Davis wasn’t endorsing Obama. “He’s got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be.”lol you couldn't pay people to write this kind of comedy gold.

By: morpheus120 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

It's one thing to have some dipshit party officer like this Fred Hobbs say that Obama may be "terrorist connected

By: fearrunsrampant on 12/31/69 at 7:00

NewYorker1come on you should know better. From a american history perspective - if you have african ancestry you are considered african american. generally people don't look at it technically and consider him mixed - Keep It Simple.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

F**ktard indeed.

By: BlueInTn on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Why should he? He's not mandated to do so and if he doesn't feel comfortable with the nominee, then he does not have to endorse. The party has the wrong nominee in place and Davis knows that.

By: morpheus120 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I encourage all Democrats to contact Lincoln Davis' office in D.C. (202-225-6831)and school Beecher Frasier on Obama's history, which is in one driven by community service, economic justice, and patriotism.Call now.

By: BlueInTn on 12/31/69 at 7:00

morpheus give us the talking points. I'd like to be schooled myself on them.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Blue, how do you know that the party has the wrong nominee if you are not even knowledgable of Obama's experience????

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Davis is a DINO and I'm surprised he even supported Edwards. Maybe because Edwards was the southern white guy? I would still agree with him that Edwards was the best candidate, shut out of the game by a lack of money and the media wanting to create a story about history making candidates. Unfortunately the history that will likely be made is 'America's oldest President'.Out there in Gomerland away from Davidson and Shelby counties alot of people think like Mr. Hobbs. And these are the people Mr. Davis represents. Remember this is a district that elected Van Hillary and probably would have continued to do so if Van hadn't run for Governor.I think what happened to Van in the Governor's race would happen to Davis too. Ford Jr. is the strongest Democratic candidate and would certainly beat Davis in a primary.

By: slacker on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Technically, Obama is a Mulatto.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 7:00

What experience?anti-American, racist, marxist?Yes they are good selling points if you want a socialist country.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Well, I consider Obama Caucasian American because culturally he's more Caucasian than African American.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

id, can you back up your accusations?

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

“He’s got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be.”No wonder images of "Deliverance" come to mind when you mention Tennessee.You're either American or you're not. No hyphenation.

By: spearNmagicHelmet on 12/31/69 at 7:00

WOW. I thought Tennessee had books and access to knowledge. This is a state official? How sad and embarrassing. For all of us.

By: JohnWMcSame on 12/31/69 at 7:00

It's embarrassing that someone from the Democratic Party of Tennessee would say something like this. I expect it from Tennessee Republicans because they don't hide the fact that they're ignorant and racist and hateful. It's sad that Tennessee is so far behind the rest of the country. Ignorance and racism just don't cut it anymore, folks. It's time we started treating each other the way Jesus taught us to--with love. Obama brings hope to many of us who had previously given up on politicians. And if you wanna talk bad connections, look no further than the two men advising John McCain's campaign. One of them is a lobbyist for terrorists and the other helped paved the way for the housing nightmare millions of Americans are suffering through as we speak. What's McCain's excuse? He doesn't have one. He's too busy spending his rich wife's trust fund.

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

JohnWMcSame, was Jesus the same reason Alan Keyes lost to Obama in the Illinois senatorial election?

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

JohnWMcSame, you're right. America should be ashamed of itself. It's ridiculous we are still dealing with these issues. I think once these old heads, people who grew up before and during the civil rights movement, die off, then we should start seeing some great strides in America. These people are holding us back as a nation. As long as they are around and still caring they hatred and bigotry, then we will continue to have these problems. Once Generation X and Y start moving into more political and leadership roles, then we will really start to see a difference in America. DIE BABY BOOMERS DIE.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"As long as they are around and still caring they hatred and bigotry....DIE BABY BOOMERS DIE."Oh the irony...lol

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"strange days indeed."
"26384

By: slacker on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Right.. NewYorker fitey cent for Prez.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Who?

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

It's true. Gen X and Y have less baggage and once we start running things, this nation will be much better off. It's a fact that Gen X and Y are less debt tolerant, we are more diverse in our thinking and more accepting of different people and cultures, we are more technologically savvy, we have fewer kids, we are less dependent on government, etc...

By: HenryB on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Get this! Here's the state Democratic Party's official response to Hobbs' comment. If anything could make me a Republican, this might be it!The Tennessee Democratic Party is united behind our party’s nominee, Senator Barack Obama. Mr. Hobbs is obviously misinformed, and his statement highlights the perpetual efforts of the Republican Party, especially here in Tennessee, to turn internet smears and highly offensive gossip into their party’s message against Senator Barack Obama as we head into the General Election. Instead of debating the issues, the Tennessee Republican Party continues to rely upon slanderous and salacious tall tales. They are borrowing from the playbook first written by Richard Nixon and employed in the race against Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Tennesseans of every political persuasion are tired of these tactics.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

and what point are you making, slacker?

By: cishart on 12/31/69 at 7:00

If these quotes are accurate, Hobbs and Frasier MUST be removed from their positions. Davis' office is already reporting that a retraction is in the works, but a retraction is simply not enough.A member of the TN Democratic Executive Committee and the chief of staff to a Democratic Congressman simply cannot retain their positions if they are contributing to Republican whisper-campaign against Senator Obama. In fact with their words they have effectively shifted that campaign from a whisper to a roar. These scurrilous attacks, if accurately reported, simply CAN NOT be wiped away by a simple retraction.The Democratic Party must stand firmly behind Barack Obama and defend him against the blatant lies fostered by right-wing reactionaries. When members of our OWN party begin repeating those lies, they cease to represent this party, and it is your responsibility to remove them from any position that allows them to speak for us.Please contact the TN Democratic Party at (615) 327 9779 and let them know you want Hobbs to resign his position within the party.

By: slacker on 12/31/69 at 7:00

NewYorker1 there are many potential Gen X political leaders, at Bonnaroo as we speak.You should be there recruiting..eh

By: HenryB on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Cishart: I agree and I intend to let the party know how angry I am. Even if Hobbs claims he was misquoted or misinterpreted, what was he doing have that kind of a conversation in the first place? As I said this morning in my first post, "Who is this Hobbs moron?" He needs to run out of the party on a rail.

By: cishart on 12/31/69 at 7:00

When I called the TN Democratic Party a few minutes ago, the woman who answered my phone took my email address so she could send me a copy of the retraction. I told her that a retraction is NOT going to cover it and she seemed surprised by that response. Their offices seem to believe that a retraction will be enough. Please let them know otherwise.

By: Funditto on 12/31/69 at 7:00

This clown, Davis, is from Hickman County so are his partners in crime. It's unrealistic to expect any more from folks from these parts. They read something on the internet and so it must be true!

By: masstexodus on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Bill Ayers is a close associate of Barack Obama. Bill Ayers is also a known (former) domestic terrorist.

By: TimO on 12/31/69 at 7:00

“Maybe [it’s] the same reason I don’t want to — I don’t exactly approve of a lot of the things Fred Hobbs stands for and I’m not sure we know enough about him,” TimO said “He’s got some bad connections, and he may be PEDOPHILE connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be.”Wow Fred Hobbs is connected to pedophiles!?!Do I have proof? No but I heard it from someone or maybe pulled it out of my butt. But that doesn't matter does it Fred?

By: shinestx on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Hey, McSame, wake up from your brain-dead stupor! If you'd been paying attention these past few decades, you would not be surprised that this kind of attitude comes from an old "yeller dog" Dim. In fact, the home of institutionalized racism in the USA today is without a doubt the dimocrat party, where everybody is assigned a race and gender and sexual preference. Could laws be made any other way?

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Unlike the Republican Party where you're either white or your a Democrat. LOLScrew both parties...

By: shinestx on 12/31/69 at 7:00

HenryB, such fools run your party. Do you always talk out of both sides of your body?

By: shinestx on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Uh, gdiafante, have you looked at the race of our Secretary of State? I know you have, because you're a Dim. Just look at all the comments posted here and see what the Dims are saying about both race and their hateful comments directed at the other party. Geez, are you really that stupid, or just playing along?

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

shine, why didn't the Secretary of State get the nod to run for the presidency?

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"Dims are saying about both race and their hateful comments directed at the other party."Pot kettle, kettle potGet your head out of your ass, boy.

By: schreinon on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I have a good (objective) site for readers of this newspaperwww.ruralvotes.comIt's important that we keep the dialog open, friendly and, most important of all, informed.Have a good day, y'allNancy

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Well, we know why there are no Republican comedians!!!

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Oh that's right, I keep forgetting school is out. LOL

By: shinestx on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"shine, why didn't the Secretary of State get the nod to run for the presidency?"Hey, nazi, this may come as a surprise to you, as an "informed" nazi, er, Dimocrat, but Secy. Rice did not run. Oh, and another bit of news perhaps, unlike the Dimwit party, the Republicans actually elect their nominee. He/she's not appointed by some elite band of "super" delegates. That's so funny... and what do they call themselves... oh, that's right... democrats... LOLOLOL. Sorry, can't stop laughting.

By: shinestx on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Nice language, dims! Reverting back to type I see. When you guys can't win arguments, you resort to name calling. That's why you're constantly calling out names. BTW, gdiafante, you try to pretend that you're a high-minded independent when in fact, you're a Dim'witocrat. See, I can call names too. I called you on that! Oh, and I had to look up my @ss to see who was up there, and lo and behold I found gdiafante. Must have gotten lost up there when I told you to kiss it.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Run along shine, your mommy's waiting...