WaPo Lauds Retiring GOPer Who 'Ruled From the Center'

Heaping praise on moderate Republican Rep. Tom Davis (Va.), the Washington Post devoted not one but two articles in the January 31 paper to the congressman. The Post lauded Davis for his centrism, but particularly for angering the Virginia GOP's conservative base. Yet left unmentioned was any analysis suggesting moderation was what felled his wife's 2007 state senate reelection campaign.

Staff writer Bill Turque penned a Metro section front pager ("In Va., Congress, Davis Has Ruled From the Center") that began by noting Davis's Republican Party family pedigree before adding that Davis "crushed" his first political opponent in a 1979 election "by placing himself firmly in the center."

"Moderate, pragmatic and canny, Davis was willing to puncture party orthodoxy and reach across partsian lines to get things done," Turque gushed, noting a few grafs later that the "right wing of his party viewed his rise with suspicion because of his left-of-conservative mainstream positions on issues including abortion and gun control."

Labeling Davis a moderate is accurate, although it's notable he's been trending leftward in recent years. The American Conservative Union evaluated him with an average lifetime score of 70.1 percent conservative, but in 2006 and 2005 his scores were closer to dead center: 56 and 57 respectively.

In an A-section front-pager, staff writer Amy Gardner focused initially on Davis's role as a champion of voting rights for the District of Columbia and for local infrastructure projects such as highway spending. But then Gardner moved on to project Davis as a victim of a vindictive right-wing of the Virginia GOP.:

...Davis didn't count on the vehemence with which the GOP's conservative wing would resist his efforts to move the party to the middle. His decision not to run for the Senate was spurred in part by an ugly battle in the state party, which held a convention instead of a primary to choose its nominee. The decision favored former governor James S. Gilmore III, a more conservative candidate viewed as likelier to attract the party faithful who typically attend conventions.

Gardner also praised Davis as a "legendary" political strategist. Yet left unmentioned in her article was the disastrous 2007 reelection campaign of Davis's wife, Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis. Mrs. Devolites-Davis, then a state senator, ran negative campaign ads attacking her Democratic opponent Chap Petersen from his left on gun control, presumably under the impression that a liberal tack on guns would be electoral gold in blue-hued Northern Virginia. She lost by 10 percentage points.

Abortion Political Groups Guns Media Bias Debate Campaigns & Elections 2008 Congressional Labeling Conservatives & Republicans Washington Post Government & Press Bill Turque Amy Gardner Tom Davis Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis