Democrat David Putman challenging Gary Palmer for Congress
Democratic congressional candidate David Putman addressed the Downtown Democratic Club of Birmingham.
By Howard Koplowitz | email@example.com on November 10, 2015 at 5:14 PM
David Putman grew up in a political family, but it hasn't been until now, at age 71, that he's considered running for office. The retired Vestavia Hills resident is running as a Democratic challenger to U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Hoover.
"I feel like Alabama has suffered too long having a single-party system," Putman said in an interview with AL.com last week, a few days before he announced his campaign to the Downtown Democratic Club of Birmingham. "I was not real impressed with the current person in office. I view him as a rubber stamp for everything that's going on amongst the Freedom Caucus and he's not done anything where he's shown a personality, any kind of leadership, any desire to take on anything," he added, referring to the group of the House's most conservative members that includes Palmer among its ranks.
Putman also attacked Palmer's prior background as the head of the Alabama Policy Institute think tank, which Putman said amounted to "no practical real-world experience."
A Palmer campaign spokeswoman responded, "If building a renowned think tank from the ground up and managing the policy as well as the administrative side, is not real experience to Mr. Putnam, then nothing probably is. Congressman Palmer did this by creating solutions that were respected not only in Alabama but nationally. This experience is paying off and he looks forward to continuing his service."
Putman is the son of Kathleen Putman, who ran for Alabama secretary of state as a Republican in 1954 – a time that was not kind to GOP candidates. She lost by about a 5-to-1 margin, according to Alabama election records. Like his mother, Putman is running as a member of an unpopular party in the state, although he said he doesn't believe it should be that way.
"I feel in my heart that people in the South are really Democrats," he said. "They're giving people, they like to help people, they pray for people in their churches."
While he's never held public office, Putman said his 30 years of experience at Alabama Power that overlapped with the company's push into natural gas. He held positions ranging from assistant plant manager to labor relations manager to general manager for fuel services would serve him well in Washington.
"I understand what businesses need" he said, adding that he would use his negotiating skills to get firms to set up shop in the district. "I want to reach out to people to find real solutions to real problems that need to be solved."
On the issues, Putman said he has an out-of-the-box idea to eliminate corporate income taxes in hopes companies would invest the savings by adding workers or growing their research budgets. He is also an advocate for rolling the so-called "death tax" into the income tax and that inherited property wouldn't be taxed until it is sold.
The 71-year-old said he is still working on his foreign policy platform, but said he wants to get past "Republican-driven foreign policy that's created a great deal of injured veterans." As an Army veteran, Putnam said he didn't understand why former soldiers couldn't get the same care at Veterans Administrations hospitals as they could at other facilities.
Putman retired in 2000, and then helped create the Homewood Soccer Club, which now boasts thousands of members. He said he worked with the Homewood City Council to build a facility for the club, and that that interaction with government would be another asset if he's elected to Congress.
"I am not some off-the-wall guy who came out of the woodwork," he said. "I'm going to work hard to give Alabama a real option."