Jo Bonner

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This article is about the American politician. For the American jazz pianist, see Joe Bonner. For the Swedish racecar driver, see Jo Bonnier.
Jo Bonner
Rep. Jo Bonner.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st district
In office
January 3, 2003 – August 2, 2013
Preceded by Sonny Callahan
Succeeded by Bradley Byrne
Chairman of the House Ethics Committee
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Zoe Lofgren
Succeeded by Mike Conaway
Personal details
Born Josiah Robins Bonner
(1959-11-19) November 19, 1959 (age 56)
Selma, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Janée Lambert
Children Jennifer Lee
Josiah Robins
Alma mater University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Religion Episcopalianism

Josiah Robins "Jo" Bonner, Jr. (born November 19, 1959) was the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 1st congressional district from 2003 to 2013. He is a member of the Republican Party. He resigned from Congress on August 2, 2013, to take a job with the University of Alabama.[1]

Early life, education, and early political career[edit]

Bonner was born in Selma, Alabama (but was reared in Camden, Alabama), to Josiah Robins Bonner, Sr., and the former Imogene Virginia Lyons.[2] He graduated in 1982 with a degree in journalism from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.[3]

Two years later he started working as campaign press secretary for U.S. Congressman Sonny Callahan, a Republican representing Alabama's 1st congressional district. In 1989, Bonner was promoted to Callahan's chief of staff and moved to Mobile.[3]

Bonner has served as a member of the board of directors for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Leadership Mobile, and the Mobile Chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni Association. In 2000, the College of Communications at the University of Alabama honored him as their Outstanding Alumnus in Public Relations. He was a member of Leadership Mobile, Class of 2000, where his classmates elected him co-president.[4]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Callahan did not run for reelection in 2002, and Bonner entered the race to succeed him. He ranked first in the crowded seven-way Republican primary with 40% of the vote, but failed to reach the 50% threshold needed to win outright.[5] In the run-off election Bonner defeated Tom Young, chief of staff to U.S. Senator Richard Shelby 62%-38%.[6] In the general election, he defeated Democrat Judy Belk with 61% of the vote.[7] However, he had effectively clinched a seat in Congress with his primary victory. The 1st is one of the most Republican districts in Alabama and the South, and has been in Republican hands without interruption since 1965. Bonner was also endorsed by his predecessors, Callahan and Jack Edwards.


During this time period, Bonner never won re-election with less than 63% of the vote. He even ran unopposed in 2008 and 2010.[8]


After redistricting, Bonner decided to run for a sixth term. In the Republican primary, he drew three opponents.[9] For the third election in a row, no other party even put up a candidate, meaning that whoever won the primary would be all but assured of election.

An anti-incumbent super PAC called the Campaign for Primary Accountability spent $21,000 to try to unseat Bonner. Bonner told The New York Times that “obviously, when the Supreme Court made their decision to open up corporate war chests, this is the result." Bonner said he believed he would survive the primary challenge because his campaign expenditures far exceed the money being spent against him. “If I hadn’t had $1 million in my account, I could be underwater right now,” said Bonner.[10] According to Federal Election Commission records, Bonner spent $650,000 on his re-election campaign. His three opponents spent a combined total of under $275,000. No Democratic candidates have filed to run against Bonner in the general election.[11]

Bonner won the Republican primary with 56% of the vote. He won all of the counties in the district.[12]


Bonner was somewhat conservative by national standards, but moderate by Alabama Republican standardds. Perhaps his most notable dissension was his opposition to on-shore liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals for Mobile, but went on to propose an off-shore option for the future. He pushed for Callahan's seat on the House Appropriations Committee but did not carry the support of his colleagues. Bonner hosted the Gulf Coast Congressional Report from 2003 to 2006, when the program was halted in response to an equal-time complaint by Vivian Beckerle, Bonner’s opponent in the 2006 election.[13][14]

Prior to being sworn into the 108th Congress, Majority Whip Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, named Bonner an Assistant Whip. The appointment made Bonner one of a number of freshmen who were part of weekly leadership meetings with Blunt, the second-ranking member in the Republican Leadership behind only the Majority Leader. On December 14, 2005, Bonner voted for the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act. On June 29, 2005, he voted for a $25 million increase in funding for anti-marijuana print and television ads. On October 6, 2005, he voted for the Department of Homeland Security. On July 13, 2006, he was one of thirty-three votes against renewal of the Voting Rights Act.[3]

In December 2011, Bonner voted in support of H.R. 10, the "Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act," which would have required Congressional approval for any "major regulations" issued by the executive branch but, unlike the 1996 Congressional Review Act, would not require the president's signature or override of a probable presidential veto.[15][16]

Bonner is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[17]

According to the website Open Congress, Bonner votes with the Republican Party 93.5% of the time. This ranked 88th among the 242 House Republicans in 2011.[18]

Heritage Action for America, a conservative policy advocacy organization, reports that 55% of Bonner's votes align with Heritage's preferred policy stances.[19]

Bonner has received a 0% on the legislative scorecards for NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Human Rights Campaign, and the American Civil Liberties Union.[20]

In 2008, following Bonner's appointment to the Appropriations Committee, free-market advocacy group FreedomWorks called on Bonner to accept a personal one-year moratorium on accepting earmarks. A FreedomWorks statement said that "Representative Bonner has a long history of securing earmarks for his district, and voting in favor of egregious pork projects on the House floor."[21]

Bonner has declined to join the Tea Party Caucus, saying:[22]

I try not to get involved in caucuses that make me look like a radical, right-wing nut. I don’t think that’s what the Tea Party is, but I want to avoid the appearance.

In 2007, Bonner voted to increase the federal minimum wage.[23] In 2008, he voted in favor of TARP, the financial bail out package.[24] Bonner voted against Republican-supported regulations on the credit-card industry and the Cash for Clunkers program.[25] Bonner supported the Iraq war and opposed a timetable for withdrawal of American troops.[24] He supports warrantless wiretapping. Bonner supports amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and he voted against repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell."[26] In the summer of 2011, Bonner voted to raise America's debt ceiling.[27]

2012 Africa trip

In March 2013, Mother Jones reported that in August 2012 Bonner and his wife took a $16,214.66 trip to a private 66,000-acre ranch in Kenya, paid for entirely by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation. The ranch is owned by members of the Wildenstein family and was the filming location of the 1985 film Out of Africa.[28] Bonner claimed that the trip was for the purposes of researching a link between illegal wildlife poaching and Al-Qaeda.[29]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Bonner was a member of the Republican Study Committee until October 2011, when he dropped out of the group.[30]

Electoral History[edit]

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2002 – Republican primary:[31][32]

  • Jo Bonner – 29,857 (40.26%)
  • Tom Young – 15,087 (20.34%)
  • David Whetstone – 10,997 (14.83%)
  • Albert Lipscomb – 7,429 (10.02%)
  • Chris Pringle – 6,001 (8.09%)
  • Rusty Glover – 4,374 (5.90%)
  • Joe J. Gottler – 411 (0.55%)

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2002 – Republican primary runoff:[33]

  • Jo Bonner – 32,421 (62.44%)
  • Tom Young – 19,501 (37.56%)

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2002 – general election:[34]

  • Jo Bonner, Republican – 108,102 (60.08%)
  • Judy McCain Belk, Democrat – 67,507 (37.52%)
  • Dick Coffee, Libertarian – 2,957 (1.64%)
  • Write-in candidates – 1,350 (0.75%)

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2004 – general election:[35]

  • Jo Bonner, Republican – 161,067 (63.12%)
  • Judy Belk, Democrat – 93,938 (36.81%)
  • Write-in candidates – 159 (0.06%)

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2006 – general election:[36]

  • Jo Bonner, Republican – 112,944 (68.10%)
  • Vivian Sheffield Beckerle, Democrat – 52,770 (31.82%)
  • Write-in candidates – 127 (0.08%)

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2008 – general election:[37]

  • Jo Bonner, Republican – 210,660 (98.27%)
  • Write-in candidates – 3,707 (1.73%)

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2010 – Republican primary:[38][39]

  • Jo Bonner – 56,937 (75.25%)
  • Peter Gounares – 18,725 (24.75%)

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2010 – general election:[40]

  • Jo Bonner, Republican – 129,063 (82.58%)
  • David Walter, Constitution – 26,357 (16.87%)
  • Write-in candidates – 861 (0.55%)

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2012 – Republican primary:[41][42]

  • Jo Bonner – 48,481 (55.55%)
  • Dean Young – 21,216 (24.31%)
  • Pete Riehm – 13,744 (15.75%)
  • Peter Gounares – 3,828 (4.39%)

Alabama's 1st congressional district, 2012 – general election:[43]

  • Jo Bonner, Republican – 196,374 (97.85%)
  • Write-in candidates – 4,302 (2.14%)

Personal life[edit]

Bonner is married to the former Janée Lambert of Mobile. They are parents of a daughter, Jennifer Lee, and a son, Josiah Robins, III. The Bonners make their home in Mobile and are members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.[4] His sister is Judy Bonner, served as the President of the University of Alabama from 2012 to 2015.[44]


  1. ^ Seiger, Teresa (May 23, 2013). "Rep. Jo Bonner talks about his resignation from Congress; new job at UA". Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Rep. Bonner". RootsWeb. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Rep. Jo Bonner (R)". National Journal Almanac. National Journal. 
  4. ^ a b "Congressman Jo Bonner, Biography". Jo Bonner's Congressional Website. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Alabama Press-Register "Mobile Bar polls judicial races; new candidate in AL-01 (Political Skinny)" February 13, 2012
  10. ^ New York Times, "‘Super PAC’ Increasing Congress’s Sense of Insecurity", March 8, 2012
  11. ^ Alabama Press-Register, "Rep. Jo Bonner wins GOP nomination for Alabama's 1st Congressional District", March 13, 2012
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Watch Gulf Coast Congressional Report Free Online". OVGuide. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Notes on Mobile & Baldwin Politics & Law". Mod Mobilian. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  15. ^ Sonmez, Felicia (December 7, 2011). "REINS bill to expand congressional power over executive regulations passed by House". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  16. ^ "FreedomWorks Scorecard". 
  17. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List" (PDF). Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  18. ^ Open Congress "Voting With Party," Accessed October 28, 2011
  19. ^ Heritage Action for America "Scorecard," Accessed March 10, 2012
  20. ^ The Hill "Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala., 1st) Lawmaker Scorecard," Accessed March 10, 2012
  21. ^ FreedomWorks "FreedomWorks Calls on Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL) to Take Personal Earmark Pledge," February 15, 2008
  22. ^ Talbot, George. "Talbot: Jo Bonner runs into anger during weeklong district tour", Press-Register (August 25, 2010).
  23. ^ House of Representatives Vote Results "Fair Minimum Wage Act," January 10, 2007
  24. ^ a b Washington Post "Jo Bonner (R-Ala.)," Accessed February 24, 2012
  25. ^ House of Representatives Vote Results "Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009," April 30, 2009
  26. ^ House of Representatives Vote Results "Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania Amendment No. 79," May 27, 2010
  27. ^, "Congressional hopeful Pete Riehm wants larger federal budget cuts, including to defense", November 30, 2011
  28. ^ Hiar, Corbin (March 2013). "The Congressman, the Safari King, and the Woman Who Tried to Look Like a Cat". Mother Jones. Retrieved March 15, 2013. 
  29. ^ Hiar, Corbin (March 15, 2013). "Former Congressional Ethics Chair: My $16,000 African Safari Was to Research Al Qaeda". Mother Jones. Retrieved March 15, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Republican Study Committee is GOP's 'circular firing squad'". Politico. October 10, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Certified Final Results 6/10/02" (Microsoft Excel). Secretary of State of Alabama. June 10, 2002. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Qualified Statewide Candidates" (Portable Document Format). Alabama Republican Party. April 10, 2002. p. 1. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Election Night Returns: Final Tally" (Portable Document Format). Alabama Republican Party. July 1, 2002. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  34. ^ Trandahl, Jeff (May 1, 2003). "Statistics of the congressional election of November 5, 2002" (Portable Document Format). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. p. 1. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  35. ^ Trandahl, Jeff (June 7, 2005). "Statistics of the congressional election of November 2, 2004" (Portable Document Format). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  36. ^ Miller, Lorraine C. (September 21, 2007). "Statistics of the congressional election of November 7, 2006" (Portable Document Format). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. p. 1. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  37. ^ Miller, Lorraine C. (July 10, 2009). "Statistics of the congressional election of November 4, 2008" (Portable Document Format). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. p. 1. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Election Results – Republican Primary" (Microsoft Excel). Secretary of State of Alabama. June 11, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Amended Certification of Republican Party candidates" (Portable Document Format). Secretary of State of Alabama. April 13, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  40. ^ Haas, Karen L. (June 3, 2011). "Statistics of the congressional election of November 2, 2010" (Portable Document Format). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. p. 1. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Certification of Republican Party candidates" (PDF). Alabama Republican Party. January 18, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Certification of Results - Republican Party Primary" (Portable Document Format). Secretary of State of Alabama. March 23, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  43. ^ Haas, Karen L. (February 28, 2013). "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 6, 2012" (Portable Document Format). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. p. 1. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  44. ^ Melissa Brown, Jo Bonner to receive $350,000 in University of Alabama System position, The Birmingham News, June 12, 2013

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sonny Callahan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st congressional district

January 3, 2011 – August 2, 2013
Succeeded by
Bradley Byrne
Preceded by
Zoe Lofgren
Chairman of the House Ethics Committee
Succeeded by
Mike Conaway