Robert E. (Bud) Cramer Jr. (1947- ) is a politician who represented Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District for nine terms. Elected in 1990, Cramer held this position until 2008, when he retired from politics. Before serving in Congress, he had been both the assistant district attorney and district attorney in Madison County. Cramer also helped found the National Children’s Advocacy Center to assist victims of child abuse.
Cramer was born in Huntsville, Madison County, on August 22, 1947. He graduated from the Madison County public schools in 1965. Cramer married Patricia Mitchell in 1967, with whom he had one daughter. Robert “Bud” Cramer He attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, where earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1969, and then attended the University of Alabama Law School, graduating in 1972. Cramer then joined the U.S. Army, served as a tank commander at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for one year, and was a member of the reserves from 1976 to 1978.
In 1973, Cramer became assistant district attorney in Madison County, serving in that position until 1975, when he entered into a private practice until 1980. That year, he was elected district attorney of Madison County and became known for advocating on behalf of child abuse victims; he served in that office for 10 years. In 1985, he helped found the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville to train staff in law enforcement, criminal justice, child protective services, and medical and mental health services to collaborate to improve the welfare of child abuse victims. For these efforts, Cramer was honored at the White House by Pres. Ronald Reagan in 1987. That same year, Cramer’s wife Patricia died of cancer. Cramer never remarried.
In 1990, after Democratic representative Ronnie Flippo announced his intention to run for governor of Alabama, Cramer declared his intent to replace Flippo and run for the Fifth District seat of Alabama. The district encompasses Colbert, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, and Jackson Counties, and parts of Morgan County. Cramer won the general election with 67 percent of the vote against Republican Albert McDonald. In 1994, Cramer narrowly defeated Republican Wane Parker, with only 50.5 percent of the vote. In subsequent races, he won handily and ran unopposed in 2006.
While in office, Cramer became known as one of the more conservative Democrats in the House. In 1995, he co-founded the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus in the House of Representatives of pro-business and fiscally conservative Democrats. In 1995, he supported a Republican-led bill that sought to ban partial-birth abortions. Robert “Bud” Cramer Nevertheless, Cramer remained a pro-choice advocate other than for partial birth abortions. Cramer’s wife, while sick with cancer, became pregnant, and due to her illness, required an abortion. Cramer often referred to his personal experience with abortion as a reason for his pro-choice stance.
In other major policy votes, he split from his party, along with 12 other Democrats, to support a large package of tax cuts proposed by Pres. George W. Bush in 2001. He joined only 80 of 208 Democrats in favor of a resolution authorizing Pres. Bush to use force against Iraq in 2002. In 2003, Cramer again split from his party, along with six other Democrats, in favor of another tax cut proposal from the president. Near the end of his tenure in Congress, Cramer joined with the majority of his party to support the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 in response to the Great Recession.
Much of Cramer’s congressional career focused on maintaining and bringing industry to his home district from his seat on the House Committee on Appropriations. When the committee sought to strip $2 billion in funding from the Huntsville space industry, threatening 3,000 jobs, Cramer, used his position on the Space and Aeronautics subcommittee to restore these funds. In 1997, he and other state officials, including Gov. Forrest “Fob” James, successfully lobbied McDonnell Douglas to build a new $400 million rocket booster plant in Decatur, Morgan County. The plant created more than 3,000 jobs within his district, winning him widespread popularity among his constituents. In 2001, Cramer helped convince Toyota executives to build an engine-manufacturing plant near Huntsville, and the plant employs nearly 1,200 people. In 2001, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Weather Service sought to close a weather station that monitored severe weather within his home district, and Cramer successfully fought to keep the facility open, arguing that the area’s high propensity for tornadoes necessitated a weather station. He also served on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Science; and Transportation and Infrastructure committees.
In March 2008, Cramer announced that he would not run for re-election, citing his need to spend more time with his family. Democrat Parker Griffith won the open seat. Remaining in Washington, D.C., Cramer took a position with Capitol Hill Consulting Group for Northrop Grumman as a lobbyist focusing on defense and aerospace policies. He later joined FTI Consulting, working for that firm as a consultant in the aerospace, defense, financial, and transportation industries. He has lately worked to decrease political partisanship as chairman of Center Forward, an organization of moderate Democrats and Republicans that arose from the Blue Dog Coalition. He was honored by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), which named a research hall in his name that houses the National Space Science and Technology Center and awarding him an honorary doctorate of laws.