Senator R. Clayton "Clay" Davis is a corrupt State Senator from Baltimore with a reputation for pocketing bribes. Davis however remains protected throughout the series by other ranking politicians and Police Commissioner Ervin Burrell.
When Lieutenant Daniels' detail discovered $20,000 of Avon Barksdale's money in the car of Davis' driver, they tried to expand the investigation to include Davis in the wiretaps. Deputy Commissioner Burrell called Daniels into a closed-door meeting with the Senator, but he was unwilling to drop the case. Burrell pulled the plug on the investigation as soon as he could, and Clay Davis' involvement went uninvestigated. It was mentioned however that Davis had a file under federal investigation that was being built for over two years suspecting him of accepting illegal liquid assets.
Davis attended a Democratic fundraiser thrown by stevedore union leader Frank Sobotka, accepting contributions in return for assurances that he would vote to construct the granary pier that Sobotka believed necessary to revitalize the union. After the newspapers subsequently revealed the criminal activities of the union, Frank's lobbyist advised him that none of the politicians would follow through. Senator Davis was soon seen with a shovel at a groundbreaking ceremony for a dockside condominiums where the granary was supposed to go.
Senator Davis had been acting as a Consultant for Stringer Bell for some time, taking bribes from the Barksdale organization while claiming to influence political currents and win state government contracts for the drug empire's legitimate business front, B&B. When Bell read in the paper that block grants were given to several city developers but not B&B, he became suspicious. His lawyer Maurice Levy concluded, with a hint of amusement, that Davis had "rain made" Bell, He had played off Stringer's inexperience in legitimate business and had simply been taking the money and doing nothing for it. Stringer, furious, told Avon that he wanted the Senator killed, but Avon warned him that assassinating a public figure would be dangerously out of their league attracting federal and state police in addition to city police to investigate their organization. Stringer accepted that his trust in Davis was foolish.
Davis acted as Mayor Royce's deputy campaign chairman, and a key fundraiser in his re-election campaign. When Detective Sydnor served a subpoena for his financial records, as part of the major crimes unit's ongoing investigation into the Barksdale organization's finances, Davis was outraged. In one Davis' more memorable moments, he goes to Mayor Royce threatening to cut off the campaign's funding unless the Mayor's office interferes with the subpoenas that have been issued.
The day before the mayoral primary, Davis approached candidate Tommy Carcetti with an offer to hold off on bringing out the vote for Royce in exchange for a $20,000 payment. On Election Day, Davis campaigned for the mayor as if the deal had not taken place. After Carcetti surpisingly won, Davis explained that Royce gave more money, and pointed out that he could easily have fleeced Carcetti for even more.
Davis stayed close to Commissioner Burrell, who Carcetti hoped to fire. Davis struck a deal with the City Council Madame President Nerese Campbell to offer a $25,000 jump in salary to a replacement commissioner, attempting to appear to Carcetti as an ally while believing the amount insufficient to attract any serious candidate. Davis is especially motivated to help Burrell when he learns that the most likely replacement is Cedric Daniels, whom he regards as too uncontrollable. Davis is against Daniels becoming commissioner remembering his attitude during the stop of his driver Damien Price and realizes that Daniels could very well allow investigations against Davis' money laundering allegations pursue. He convinces Campbell with Burrell that Daniels is more interested in serving Mayor Carcetti and is unwilling to be of use to the city's African American community. To keep Daniels from moving up, Davis agrees with Burrell's plans to present information regarding illegal activities from Daniels' past.
Davis is played by Isiah Whitlock, Jr.
|Season one appearances|
|The Target||The Detail||The Buys||Old Cases||The Pager|
|The Wire||One Arrest||Lessons||Game Day||The Cost|
|The Hunt||Cleaning Up||Sentencing|
|Season two appearances|
|Ebb Tide||Collateral Damage||Hot Shots||Hard Cases||Undertow|
|All Prologue||Backwash||Duck and Cover||Stray Rounds||Storm Warnings|
|Bad Dreams||Port in a Storm|
|Season three appearances|
|Time After Time||All Due Respect||Dead Soldiers||Amsterdam||Straight and True|
|Homecoming||Back Burners||Moral Midgetry||Slapstick||Reformation|
|Middle Ground||Mission Accomplished|
|Season four appearances|
|Boys of Summer||Soft Eyes||Home Rooms||Refugees||Alliances|
|Margin of Error||Unto Others||Corner Boys||Know Your Place||Misgivings|
|A New Day||That's Got His Own||Final Grades|
|Season five appearances|
|More with Less||Unconfirmed Reports||Not for Attribution||Transitions||React Quotes|
|The Dickensian Aspect||Took||Clarifications||Late Editions||–30–|
Creator David Simon has said that Clay Davis is based on three different politicians in the Baltimore State Senate, and that his trademark "partner" is based on one of them, saying that everybody in Baltimore knows who this is.
Slate magazine singled out Clay Davis as a reason they were looking forward to the return of the show for its fifth season. They highlighted the character as being unusual in that he shows no moral complexity and is simply corrupt. They also applauded Whitlock's delivery of the character's trademark "Sheeeeee-it".