BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Gary Palmer, a candidate for Alabama’s 6th Congressional district, said Monday that he regrets, “to a certain extent,” promising not to support U.S. Rep. John Boehner for Speaker of the House, if he is elected. Palmer, a Republican, acknowledged there could be consequences, in terms of committee assignments, for that promise.
Palmer, who told of his subsequent conversation with Boehner in a meeting with The Birmingham News/AL.com editorial board Monday afternoon, was responding to a statement by his Democratic candidate, Mark Lester, that Palmer wouldn’t work with Boehner in Washington.
Palmer explained that he promised not to vote for Boehner, but does plan to work with him if elected.
“What I told Speaker Boehner is that I wouldn’t vote for him for speaker,” Palmer said. The promise not to vote for Boehner was one he made during a candidate forum in the crowded Republican primary, Palmer said, and he explained that to Boehner.
“I told him that I’m fully aware that he will be the speaker again, and I’m fully aware of what that might mean in terms of committee assignments – I, very likely, will be the lowest ranking guy on the committee that’s in charge of making sure we have clean bathrooms,” Palmer said. “But I told him that if the first thing that I did when I got up there is violate my word to the voters, and break that trust, not only would I lose that confidence, but, immediately in the back of his head, he would be wondering at what point would I break my word to him?”
“I told him, I said that I want you to know right now that if I tell you I’ll do something, you can count on it, and I’m going to prove it to you by not voting for you,” Palmer continued. “He understood that.”
Palmer said he and Boehner have had two conversations since that first one, and he plans to work with Boehner if he is elected – even though he will not vote for him in conference.
While Palmer said he still has differences with Boehner – Palmer doesn’t want to push “amnesty,” he said – he believes the Speaker may play a new role if the Republicans win control of the Senate in November.
“I got to thinking about this after I made that statement that I wouldn’t vote for him – after looking at it a little more closely, I thought a lot of this is unfair,” Palmer said. “He’s never been speaker when anyone other than [Democrat] Harry Reid was the majority leader” in the U.S. Senate.
“To a certain extent, I regret having said that,” Palmer explained, referring to his promise that he wouldn’t vote for Boehner. “But I said it, and I can’t walk it back. You give your word, you’ve got to keep your word.”
Lester and Palmer face off at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4.