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Artur Davis

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A congressman trying to become Alabama’s first black governor has drawn the ire of the state’s black leaders by refusing to take part in screenings for their organizations’ endorsements.

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Birmingham said Wednesday that black voters need no permission from the groups in deciding who to support for governor.

State Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma, a veteran black political leader with the Alabama New South Coalition, said Davis was thumbing his nose at his base. Sanders and others said it would be costly to Davis in the June 1 Democratic primary, where nearly half of the voters are black.

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Davis has been viewed as the front-runner in the primary. The influential groups normally do not endorse anyone who skips their screening process.

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