Beasley joins Artur Davis campaign
Beasley, a power player in state Democratic politics, announced his support during a teleconference with reporters on Monday. Davis, a Birmingham Democrat and former federal prosecutor, is a Montgomery native.
Beasley said he has seen many governors, Democrats and Republicans, and the "best governors had a definite leadership quality and I see that in Artur Davis." He said he believes Davis can help attract jobs, help the state transform and "unlock its full potential," and has the ability to bring people together.
"He has proven in Congress he can work with Republicans and work with Democrats," Beasley said. " ... He just has that unique ability to lead."
His announcement comes a year before the Democratic primary with at least one notable Democratic candidate still considering a run for governor in 2010.
The former lieutenant governor, who served from 1971 to 1979, said he agreed to support Davis before there was ever talk of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb entering the race. Cobb, the only Democrat on the nine-member court, has said she is considering a run.
Beasley and other trial lawyers actively supported Cobb in her 2006 win over then-Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, who was appointed to the office by Republican Gov. Bob Riley.
"First of all, I have had no conversation with the chief justice," Beasley said. "She is doing a good job there. It's her call whether she runs for governor. I think most people would like to see her stay."
He said he was not trying to send a message to any other candidate by supporting Davis at this juncture.
"He is the right man for the job, and I know that he can and will be Alabama’s next governor," Beasley said of the congressman.
Davis, Beasley said, showed he is skilled at raising funds during his runs for Congress and believes the candidate can raise the millions needed to run a competitive race for governor. He said any serious candidate will need to raise $10 million to $12 million.
Davis, in a statement, said he was honored Beasley agreed to serve in a major leadership role in his campaign.
Beasley previously endorsed Riley and Gov. Fob James, both Republicans. He was lieutenant governor while George Wallace was governor.
"I believe Artur Davis has a vision for Alabama," Beasley said, adding that the vision would help to ensure the state’s economic success. "We've got to move into the 21st Century full steam ahead. He has the ability to lead and do the things necessary to attract jobs for the 21st century.
"He in my judgment is the ideal candidate for the times."
When asked, Beasley said he believes a black man can be elected governor in Alabama.
"I surely hope we are past that day in Alabama," he said. " ... I do not believe race will be a deciding factor one way or another."