By Jonathan Hardison
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The issue of race is bubbling to the surface again in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, and it's one of the state's oldest black political voices who's stirring the pot.
Joe Reed, who's the leader of the state's oldest black political organization, said today Rep. Artur Davis can't win in November because he "rejected the black vote."
It seems almost surreal to see the issue of race becoming a flash point between 2 prominent African-American political voices. But what Reed said today is something some other prominent black politicians have been saying off the record for months now, and it's an argument Artur Davis says belongs in the past.
Speaking in Montgomery Wednesday, Reed wasted no time in going after his fellow democrat, saying many black voters wouldn't vote for Davis because he didn't support President Obama's healthcare reform plan.
"You can't curse folk in the daytime and beg them at night. It doesn't work," Reed said.
Davis won't appear before Reed's Alabama Democratic Conference to ask for its endorsement, a move Reed says sends a clear message.
"You've told blacks already, 'I don't want the black vote,'" Reed said.
"Now once you eliminate that's your base vote. That's the base vote of any Democrat who runs for office. So you repudiate that, so where are you going to get your white votes from?"
Davis responded at a rally for transit Wednesday in Birmingham.
"Joe Reed apparently has a race problem," Davis sad. "Joe Reed apparently thinks blacks can't be elected to high office. He said the same thing about Barack Obama three years ago, he said the same thing about me today, and it's sad. Joe Reed got into politics years ago because he wanted to expand opportunity for all individuals to serve regardless of race. As America moves forward, Joe Reed has gone backwards."
"I criticized all the Alabama congressmen, and the Democrats in particular," Reed said. "But Artur took exception to it and said I injected race in it. Well there's no way in God's green earth Artur can run for anything or Joe Reed can run for anything for that matter and race doesn't get into the picture."
"He'll learn on June 1st and November 2nd, Alabama's ready to move forward," Davis said.
Reed said it's not automatic that his group will endorse Davis' primary opponent Ron Sparks.The Alabama Democratic Conference will meet to decide on whether to endorse a candidate on Saturday.