Gary Palmer (politician)

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Gary Palmer
Gary Palmer - 2018.jpg
Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
LeaderKevin McCarthy
Preceded byLuke Messer[1]
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 6th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded bySpencer Bachus
Personal details
Gary James Palmer

(1954-05-14) May 14, 1954 (age 67)
Hackleburg, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Ann Cushing
EducationUniversity of Alabama (BS)
WebsiteHouse website

Gary James Palmer (born May 14, 1954) is an American politician from the state of Alabama. Elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2014, he represents Alabama's 6th congressional district. The district includes the wealthier portions of Birmingham, as well as most of that city's suburbs. Prior to his career as an elected official, Palmer co-founded and served as the long-time president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank.[2] He is a member of the Republican Party and the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives.[3] Since 2019, he has served as the Chair of the Republican Policy Committee.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Palmer was born in Hackleburg, Alabama. His family lived on a 40-acre farm, where Palmer helped maintain the family garden and animals.[4]

He has a bachelor's degree in operations management from the University of Alabama.[5] Palmer was the first member of his family to earn a college degree.[4] He was a walk-on wide receiver for the Crimson Tide and played under Bear Bryant.[6] In 1989, Palmer co-founded the Alabama Family Alliance, which later became the Alabama Policy Institute. Palmer served as president of the conservative think tank for 25 years, stepping down in 2014 to pursue a run for Congress.[7] Palmer helped found the State Policy Network, a nonprofit umbrella organization for conservative and libertarian think tanks which focus on state-level policy, and served as its president.[8]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Palmer declared his candidacy for the 6th district following the retirement announcement of 11-term incumbent Spencer Bachus.[5] In a crowded seven-way Republican primary—the real contest in this heavily Republican district—Palmer finished second behind state representative Paul DeMarco. In the ensuing runoff election, Palmer picked up the support of the Club for Growth.[9] Despite outspending Palmer, DeMarco lost momentum after a botched debate with Palmer and never recovered. By election day, polls suggested Palmer would win the nomination by 30 points. Palmer won the runoff election by a margin of 64% to 36%.[10] In the November 4, 2014 general election, Palmer defeated Democratic nominee Mark Lester, a history professor at Birmingham-Southern College, 76% to 24%.[11] However, he had effectively clinched a seat in Congress with his primary victory. With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+28, the 6th was tied with the neighboring 4th as the most Republican district in Alabama.

Palmer has been reelected three times with only nominal opposition, even running unopposed in 2020. He has only dropped below 70 percent once, when Democrat Danner Kline held him to 69.2 percent. Kline himself tallied 30.8 percent of the vote, the best showing for a Democrat in almost a quarter-century. It is the only time since the GOP began its current run in the seat in 1993 that a Democrat has even managed 30 percent of the vote.


Gary Palmer's swearing in for his second tenure in office in 2017.

Palmer took office on January 3, 2015, along with the other freshmen members of the 114th Congress. Conservative Review has graded Palmer's voting record an A with a Liberty Score of 100%. Palmer is one of only three Republican representatives to receive this highest possible grade out of 247 Republicans in the House of Representatives.[12]

116th Congress (2019-2021)[edit]

Palmer was elected Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee for the 116th Congress[13]

117th Congress (2021-2023)[edit]

He was at the Capitol to certify the 2020 presidential election results on January 6, 2021, when the attack on the Capitol took place. During the attack, Palmer tweeted that it was a "sad day" and that "the scenes we witnessed today were unacceptable."[14] After the attack, Palmer voted against certifying the election, opposing the results of the presidential vote count in Arizona and Pennsylvania.[15] Days later, on January 13, Palmer blamed Donald Trump for "sending" the attackers to the Capitol.[16] Palmer proceeded to vote against impeaching Trump a second time, calling the second impeachment a Democratic "abuse of power" and a "sham process."[17]

Palmer voted against the American Rescue Plan, an economic recovery and COVID-19 relief bill, in February 2021. His rationale for opposing the bill was that it was "not about COVID relief, but about the Democrat agenda" and that the bill was a "repeat of the failed stimulus bill passed in 2009 under President Obama and then Vice President Biden."[18] Despite Palmer's claims, the American Rescue Plan is unrelated to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

As of 2020, Palmer has a 92 percent rating for supporting conservative causes, according to Heritage Action for America.[21] The American Conservative Union's center for legislative accountability gave him a 97% lifetime conservative rating[22] and the progressive PAC Americans for Democratic Action gave him a 0% liberal quotient in 2019.[23]


Palmer opposes legal abortion.[24]

LGBTQ rights[edit]

Palmer has stated that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice is something "no reasonable person" would allow and said that "the safety implications for sexual predation have been well documented."[25]

He opposes same-sex marriage, stating that "No one can change the fundamental nature of what marriage is: the union of a man and a woman and the formation of a family which is the foundation of every civilization."[26]


During the COVID-19 crisis, Palmer opposed proxy voting while Congress was unable to work onsite at the Capitol due to shelter-in-place orders.[27]


Palmer voted to support medical marijuana research but is opposed to legalizing marijuana.[24]

Gun law[edit]

Palmer is a supporter of gun rights. He opposes gun restrictions and efforts to repeal what he deems unconstitutional gun restrictions. He supports efforts that enable legal gun owners to carry their guns, including concealed carry, over state lines.[28]

Health care[edit]

Palmer opposes the Affordable Care Act calling it "a nightmare" and that it is "job killing." He supports efforts to repeal it.[29]

Homeland security[edit]

Palmer is pro-nuclear weapons. He supports increasing funding for the Defense Department specifically around work in the Middle East.[30]


Palmer opposes illegal immigration to the United States, including allow undocumented workers the right to work in the US. He supports efforts to deport undocumented immigrants.[31]

Tax reform[edit]

Palmer voted in support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[32] He says that the tax plan would "put more money in the pockets of the American people" and "launch economic growth." He blamed the Obama administration and a "burdensome tax code that was designed for a 1986 economy," for an "anemic" economy.[33]

Texas v. Pennsylvania[edit]

In December 2020, Palmer was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives who signed an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden prevailed[34] over incumbent Donald Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of the election held by another state.[35][36][37]

Electoral history[edit]

2014 Alabama's 6th congressional district Republican primary, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Paul DeMarco 30,894 32.7
Republican Gary Palmer 18,655 19.7
Republican Scott Beason 14,451 15.3
Republican Chad Mathis 14,420 15.3
Republican Will Brooke 13,130 13.9
Republican Tom Vigneulle 2,397 2.5
Republican Robert Shattuck 587 0.5
Total votes 94,534 100.0
Alabama's 6th congressional district Republican primary runoff, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Palmer 47,491 63.5
Republican Paul DeMarco 27,295 36.5
Alabama's 6th congressional district election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Palmer 135,495 76.2
Democratic Mark Lester 42,291 23.7
Write-in 213 0.1
Total votes 178,449 100.0
Republican hold
Alabama's 6th congressional district election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Palmer (incumbent) 245,313 74.5
Democratic David Putnam 83,709 25.4
Write-in 284 0.1
Total votes 329,206 100.0
Republican hold
Alabama's 6th congressional district election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Palmer (incumbent) 192,542 69.2
Democratic Danner Kline 85,644 30.8
Write-in 142 0.1
Total votes 278,328 100.0
Republican hold
Alabama's 6th congressional district, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Palmer (incumbent) 274,160 97.1
Write-in 8,101 2.9
Total votes 282,261 100.0
Republican hold

Personal life[edit]

Palmer is married to Ann Cushing Palmer.[38] The Palmer's have three children.[39]

When working in Washington, D.C., Palmer sleeps at his office on Capitol Hill.[38]

Palmer is a longtime member of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Rep. Messer reelected to Chair Republican Policy Committee". Republican Policy Committee. November 15, 2016.
  2. ^ Cason, Mike (October 24, 2013). "Gary Palmer announces he will run for Congress in Alabama's 6th congressional district". Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  3. ^ Bialik, Carl; Bycoffe, Aaron (September 25, 2015). "The Hard-Line Republicans Who Pushed John Boehner Out". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Platt, Camille Smith (February 24, 2017). "Cover Story: Gary Palmer". Birmingham Christian Family Magazine. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Gary Palmer announces he will run for Congress in Alabama's 6th congressional district". Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  6. ^ "Ala. congressional candidate remembers playing for Bear Bryant: 'wouldn't trade it for anything'". Yellowhammer News. May 13, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  7. ^ Moseley, Brandon (September 2014). "Crosby to Replace Palmer at API". Alabama Political Reporter. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  8. ^ Barnes, Fred (May 22, 2014). "A Conservative Candidate of Character, Conviction, Knowledge, and Leadership". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  9. ^ "Gary Palmer Marks Second Chance for Club for Growth in Alabama Race". At the Races. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  10. ^ "Gary Palmer swamps Paul DeMarco in 6th District Republican runoff". Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  11. ^ "Gary Palmer victorious in Alabama's 6th congressional district race". Shelby County Reporter. November 4, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  12. ^ "Conservative Review - Scorecard". Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  13. ^ "Palmer Elected to 116th Congress's GOP Leadership Team". Congressman Gary Palmer. November 14, 2018.
  14. ^ "Alabama's congressional delegation reacts to storming of US Capitol". WAFF. January 6, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  15. ^ Lyman, Brian (January 7, 2021). "6 Alabama congressmen, 1 senator support moves to throw out votes of Arizona, Pennsylvania". The Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  16. ^ "Rep. Gary Palmer: 'I hold the president responsible for sending those people to the Capitol'". Yellowhammer News. January 7, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  17. ^ "Palmer said that there "are still no grounds for impeachment"". Alabama Political Reporter. January 16, 2020. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  18. ^ "Here's how Alabama's U.S. House Representatives voted on President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill". February 27, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  19. ^ Guy, Retiring (February 25, 2017). "Retiring Guy's Digest: Sounds like Alabama GOP rep and Freedom Caucus crazy Gary Palmer had a case of nerves at his town hall". Retiring Guy's Digest. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  20. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  21. ^ "Rep. Gary Palmer - Scorecard 116: 92% | Heritage Action For America". Heritage Action For America. June 29, 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  22. ^ "ACU Lawmakers".
  23. ^ "ADA Liberal Quotient" (PDF).
  24. ^ a b Underwood, Madison. "Abortion, marijuana, and same-sex marriage: District 6 candidates state their positions". Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  25. ^ Koplowitz, Howard. "'They have lost their minds': Roby, Palmer blast Obama administration over transgender student bathroom guidance". Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  26. ^ Koplowitz, Howard. "SCOTUS gay marriage ruling: Alabama congressional delegation widely pans same-sex marriage decision". Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  27. ^ Palmer, Gary (May 21, 2020). "A message to Americans from Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats". The Washington Times. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  28. ^ "Gary Palmer on Gun Control". On the Issues. June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  29. ^ "Gary Palmer on Health Care". On the Issues. June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  30. ^ "Gary Palmer on Homeland Security". On the Issues. June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  31. ^ "Gary Palmer on Immigration". On the Issues. June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  32. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  33. ^ Kirby, Brendan (December 20, 2017). "Tax cuts will create 4,600 Alabama jobs, raise family income across the state by $519, study says - Yellowhammer News". Yellowhammer News. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  34. ^ Blood, Michael R.; Riccardi, Nicholas (December 5, 2020). "Biden officially secures enough electors to become president". AP News. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  35. ^ Liptak, Adam (December 11, 2020). "Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  36. ^ "Order in Pending Case" (PDF). Supreme Court of the United States. December 11, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  37. ^ Diaz, Daniella. "Brief from 126 Republicans supporting Texas lawsuit in Supreme Court". CNN. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  38. ^ a b Koplowitz, Howard (July 21, 2015). "Palmer: D.C. more like 'C-SPAN' than 'House of Cards'". AL. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  39. ^ Turpen, Katie (December 10, 2014). "Local politician Gary Palmer discusses highlights of campaign and upcoming term". Hoover Sun. Retrieved November 20, 2020.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Spencer Bachus
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 6th congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by
Luke Messer
Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Dan Newhouse
United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Kathleen Rice