Published Date: 
Thu, 2014-01-23

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Conservative Union (ACU) today announced its first ACU Ratings of the Tennessee General Assembly, honoring the Volunteer State’s true conservatives. The nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization began a new initiative to expand the highly touted ACU Congressional Ratings program to state legislatures, grading members on their votes on key conservative issues. The Tennessee 2013 State Legislative Ratings guide is now available online at

“On behalf of the American Conservative Union, I am pleased to announce the winners of our 2013 State Legislative Ratings for members of the Tennessee General Assembly,” said ACU Chairman Al Cardenas. “For 42 years, ACU has set the gold standard for Congressional ratings, and we are now able to offer that same level of transparent information to the voters of Tennessee so they can hold their elected officials accountable at the state level as well. The legislature should be commended for strengthening Second Amendment rights, protecting religious freedom on campus and instituting performance based standards for teacher retention during their 2013 session.  We urge legislators to build on their progress in labor law reform by eliminating Davis-Bacon wage requirements for all government projects, including highway construction.”

In 2011, the American Conservative Union launched a new initiative to bring its annual Ratings of Congress – considered the gold standard of conservative voter education guides – to the state level, issuing inaugural ratings of state legislators in five battleground states: Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. In 2012, ACU graded state legislators in 15 critical states and in 2013, they expanded their ratings to 20 states.

The ACU Ratings of the Tennessee General Assembly will include scores for each individual member in both the State Senate and House of Representatives, a description of the votes scored and lists of members receiving special recognition as “Defenders of Liberty,” “ACU Conservatives,” or “True Liberals of the Volunteer State.”

The ACU tracks a wide range of issues before state legislatures to determine which issues and votes serve as a clear litmus test separating those representatives who defend liberty and liberal members who have turned their backs on our founding principles – constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, free markets, and traditional values. The votes selected for Tennessee 2013 State Legislative Ratings were chosen to create a clear ideological distinction among those casting them.

The ACU “Defender of Liberty” award goes to those members of the Tennessee General Assembly who scored 100 percent on the ACU Tennessee 2013 State Legislative Ratings. In the State Senate, recipients are: Joey Hensley and Jim Tracy.  House recipients include: Sheila Butt, Joe Carr, Mike Carter, Barry Doss, Tilman Goins, Curtis Halford, Steve Hall, Matthew Hill, Timothy Hill, Andy Holt, Mary Littleton, Ron Lollar, Debra Moody, Dennis Powers, Barrett Rich, Mike Sparks, Billy Spivey, James Van Huss, and Ryan Williams.

The winners of the “ACU Conservative” award – given to those members who scored 80 percent or higher – in the Senate: Mae Beavers, Mike Bell, Janice Bowling, Stacey Campfield, Rusty Crowe, Steven Dickerson, Todd Gardenhire, Mark Green, Dolores Gresham, Ferrell Haile, Jack Johnson, Brian Kelsey, Bill Ketron, Becky Duncan Massey, Randy McNally, Frank Niceley, Mark Norris, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Steve Southerland, John Stevens, Bo Watson, and Ken Yager.

"ACU Conservatives” in the House include: David Alexander, Harry Brooks, Kevin Brooks, Kent Calfee, Glen Casada, Jim Coley, Vance Dennis, Bill Dunn, Jeremy Durham, Jimmy Eldridge, Joshua Evans, Jeremy Faison, Richard Floyd, John Forgety, Michael Harrison, Speaker Beth Harwell, David Hawk, Ryan Haynes, Curtis Johnson, Roger Kane, William Lamberth, Jon Lundberg, Susan Lynn, Pat Marsh, Judd Matheny, Jimmy Matlock, Gerald McCormick, Steve McDaniel, Steve McManus, Mark Pody, John Ragan, Courtney Rogers, Bill Sanderson, Charles Michael Sargent, Cameron Sexton, Tony Shipley, Art Swann, Curry Todd, Eric Watson, Terri Lynn Weaver, Dawn White, Mark White, Tim Wirgau, and Rich Womick.

The members who scored an atrocious “zero” on the ratings, earning “True Liberals of the Volunteer State” awards, are – in the House: Joe Armstrong, Barbara Cooper, G.A. Hardaway, Darren Jernigan, Larry Miller, Gary Odom, Jason Powell, Mike Stewart, Joe Towns, Johnnie Turner, Mike Turner, and Jim Kyle in the Senate.

For more information on the American Conservative Union or to download the full Tennessee 2013 State Legislative Ratings Guide, please click here or visit our website at


Founded in 1964, the ACU represents the views of Americans who are concerned with economic growth through lower taxes and reduced government spending and the issues of liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values and national security. ACU first began rating members of Congress on key conservative voting issues in 1971, and since then their ratings system has become the most important conservative measuring stick in American politics.