|Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2019
|Preceded by||Luke Messer|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Alabama's 6th district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Spencer Bachus|
Gary James Palmer
May 14, 1954
Hackleburg, Alabama, U.S.
|Education||University of Alabama (BS)|
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. He is a member of the Republican Party and the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives. Since 2019, he has served as the Chair of the Republican Policy Committee.
Palmer was born in Hackleburg, Alabama. His family lived on a 40-acre farm, where Palmer helped maintain the family garden and animals.
He has a bachelor's degree in operations management from the University of Alabama. Palmer was the first member of his family to earn a college degree. He was a walk-on wide receiver for the Crimson Tide and played under Bear Bryant. 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. 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.
Palmer declared his candidacy for the 6th district following the retirement announcement of 11-term incumbent Spencer Bachus. 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. 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%. In the November 4, 2014 general election, Palmer defeated Democratic nominee Mark Lester, a history professor at Birmingham-Southern College, 76% to 24%. 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.
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.
Palmer was elected Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee for the 116th Congress
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." After the attack, Palmer voted against certifying the election, opposing the results of the presidential vote count in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Days later, on January 13, Palmer blamed Donald Trump for "sending" the attackers to the Capitol. Palmer proceeded to vote against impeaching Trump a second time, calling the second impeachment a Democratic "abuse of power" and a "sham process."
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." Despite Palmer's claims, the American Rescue Plan is unrelated to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
As of 2020, Palmer has a 92 percent rating for supporting conservative causes, according to Heritage Action for America.
Palmer opposes legal abortion. Palmer has a zero percent rating from Planned Parenthood.
As of 2018, Palmer had a rating of seven percent from the ACLU.
Palmer has a score of 0 out of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign. Palmer supports bathroom bills. He 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."
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."
Palmer supports efforts requiring photo identification to be required in order to vote.
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.
Palmer voted to support medical marijuana research but is opposed to legalizing marijuana.
He supports full transparency regarding campaign contributions.
Palmer supports term limits, specifically six years for U.S. House members and twelve years for U.S. senators.
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.
Palmer opposes the Affordable Care Act calling it "a nightmare" and that it is "job killing." He supports efforts to repeal it.
Palmer is pro-nuclear weapons. He supports increasing funding for the Defense Department specifically around work in the Middle East.
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.
Palmer voted in support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. 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.
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 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.
|Republican||Gary Palmer (incumbent)||245,313||74.5|
|Republican||Gary Palmer (incumbent)||192,542||69.2|
|Republican||Gary Palmer (incumbent)||274,160||97.1|
Palmer is married to Ann Cushing Palmer. The Palmer's have three children.
When working in Washington, D.C., Palmer sleeps at his office on Capitol Hill.
Palmer is a longtime member of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.