Alabama’s 7th Congressional district is 62 percent black and its 5th-term congressman, Earl F. Hilliard, is an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Despite this caucus’s extraordinary help, including six of them who traveled to Alabama to campaign for him, Hilliard was defeated by a 34-year-old Harvard-educated attorney, Artur Davis, who received 52,356 votes to Hilliard’s 41,050, Davis graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard as an undergraduate and Cum Laude from Harvard Law School.
The Hilliard Campaign featured one TV spot which morphed a white man into Davis … who is black. Another spot showed Davis supporters as white, cigar-smoking fat cats; while another showed Davis with a large bandage over his mouth with the words “FOR SALE.”
Washington’s Weekly Standard magazine reported this week:
“In early June, [Congressional Black] Caucus members [all are Democrats] summoned Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Whip Nancy Pelosi and two others to a special meeting. The subject: Helping Rep. Earl Hilliard of Alabama defeat a primary challenger in the June 25 runoff. The challenger, Artur Davis, was getting campaign contributions from donors angry with Hilliard’s anti-Israel views. Hilliard had refused to support a resolution criticizing Palestinian suicide bombings. At the Congressional Black Caucus session, Davis was cited for making an appeal to Jewish Democrats, even traveling to New York for fundraisers. If Democratic leaders don’t rescue Hilliard, CBC members said they would block aid to Israel.
“Democratic leaders quickly urged House members to donate $1,000 each to Hilliard’s campaign. But the letter wasn’t signed by two prominent Democratic honchos from New York – Charles Rangel, a CBC member and ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee and Nita Lowey, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The letter caused the anger to ease a bit, and a CBC member, Alcee Hastings of Florida, met with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee to avert a major black-Jewish rift in the Democratic party.”
The Standard also noted: “Ethan Wallison and Rachel Van Dongen of Roll Call the Capitol Hill newspaper, wrote a detailed account of the flap. It was a great piece of reporting, but major newspapers and TV news outlets didn’t pick up the story. Now imagine if it had been a story about threats by right-wing Christians to Republican leaders. That would have been front-page news for sure.”
One year ago, Congressman Hilliard was censured by the House Ethics Committee for paying off business and personal debts with campaign funds.
Five years ago, Hilliard visited Libya on behalf of a European company.
Candidate Davis accused Congressman Hilliard of doing little to help his district while lining his pockets in Washington.
During the campaign, Representative Hilliard refused offers to debate Davis.
At Hilliard’s campaign office in Birmingham, a spokeswoman said the congressman had no comment on the primary election result. She also confirmed that the following members of the Congressional Black Caucus came to Alabama to campaign for Congressman Hilliard:
“Representatives Maxine Waters of California; Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Stephanie Jones of Ohio; John Conyers of Michigan; Benny Thompson of Mississippi; as well as former D.C. Congressional Delegate Walter Fauntroy – and the Rev. Al Sharpton.”
The spokeswoman confirmed that Rep. Hilliard announced that Hollywood actor Danny Glover would campaign for him; but Glover never arrived.