2024 Election

Chris Davis Is Following His Parents’ Example in Running for the 7th Congressional District

Chris Davis is running for Alabama’s Congressional District 7 seat. (Source: Campaign)

As a 15-year-old student at Birmingham’s Huffman High School, Chris Davis wanted to be Arsenio Hall. He could envision himself sitting on a couch on television and conversing with various personalities.

“I remember being a part of this group in high school called the Leadership Opportunity Forum,” Davis said. “They made us make out a little sheet on what we thought we might want to be when we got older. I remember … thinking that it would be really great to have a late-night talk show where you could have bands and politicians and business people, whomever you thought was cool, come sit on your couch and you interact about it. I remember that very vividly.”

Three and a half decades later, Davis hopes to be someone who would be a guest on a late-night talk show, not to mention Meet the Press or some other news magazine. The 50-year-old is running to unseat seven-term incumbent Terri Sewell in representing the 7th Congressional District in the U.S. Congress.

He is facing her in the Democratic primary set for March 5.

Read Davis’ bio.

This is the third bid for public office for Davis, the director of business development and government affairs for BHM Law Group. He unsuccessfully ran for the state House in 2017 and the Birmingham City Council in 2018.

The candidate is the second of three sons of Carl and Pat Davis. Carl Jr. is 5 years older than him and Cardell is one year younger. He said he avoided being the stereotypical middle child.

“My brothers are quite different people with basically a similar moral compass from our upbringing,” he said. “We all appreciate each other so no real need to act out in typical middle child fashion.”

Carl Davis, their father, is a recently retired pastor. Their mother, Pat Davis, had a stint in the state House, which opened the eyes of Chris Davis to the notion of public service.

“My mother was a public servant before she was ever elected to anything,” he said. “The way that I look at public service comes almost directly from my mother.”

Davis recalled being in tow when his mother would attend neighborhood meetings when he was as young as 5. She would have him and his two brothers with coloring books and the like in the back of the room.

“We were always taught to be engaged and she was the one that brought us to the neighborhood cleanups and neighborhood functions and being a neighborhood officer,” he said. “She didn’t get elected to the state House until I was a teen, which is the same year that my father became a pastor.

“My mother, she lived it,” the candidate said. “We learned it through her and through our lived experience with her.”

Pat Davis said she always envisioned her son Chris being a leader and a public servant.

“I could see it in him when he was a little boy,” she said. “He’s always wanted to be with the people. He always had some leadership skills.  He’s always wanted to be that person to help the other people. He’s always wanted to do that.”

Pat Davis was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1982. She served until 1989, when she was convicted of extorting money from a United Mine Workers of America official in exchange for her vote.

An appeals court overturned the original verdict, but she was convicted on re-trial in 1995 and served four years in prison before earning a pardon in 2006.

Chris Davis said not only did his mother’s ouster from the House not push him away from public office, it pulled him toward it.

“It probably is the impetus behind my turn towards politics, as opposed to turning away from it,” he said, saying that he wants to continue his mother’s effort to serve constituents. “I understood very well the power of politics by the time my mother’s tenure in the state House had ended.

“My mother was very serious about her service, so much so she continues to serve communities today, beyond her conviction and cancer and everything else,” the candidate said. “I draw my passion and dedication from that.”

Government Should Work for People

Chris Davis said government needs to work; it needs to be something that people can touch, feel and see, particularly around the issues that converge to make the Seventh Congressional District.

“For all intent and purpose, the 7th Congressional District is a bunch of African American neighborhoods tied together,” he said. “Some of them are urban, some of them are rural. What we have in common is … some plant that’s very near it, some railroad tracks that run through it, some pollutant that wouldn’t be placed anywhere else but it’s near one of the communities in the 7th Congressional District.”

Davis cited North Birmingham as an area in the district that is experiencing environmental injustice from the federal level.

“It is morally improper to continue to know that people are living around things that other people know they can’t live around because the pollutants will kill you,” he said. “And we haven’t done a single thing about it.”