American Conservative Union releases ratings of Tenn. lawmakers, makes no mention of legal issues

Sen. Brian Kelsey walks in the state Capitol on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The American Conservative Union, which is mentioned in several not-so-subtle ways in the federal campaign finance fraud indictment against state Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), has released its latest ratings of Tennessee lawmakers — including of the aforementioned Kelsey, who gets an 85.

“From protecting the Second Amendment to banning Critical Race Theory in schools, it is no surprise that Tennessee, led by a great governor in Bill Lee, once again scores among the most conservative state’s in the country,” Matt Schlapp, the group’s chairman, said in a release.

Kelsey is accused of funneling money from his state account through two other PACs to the American Conservative Union, which then spent money on ads supporting his ill-fated congressional bid in 2016. Kelsey has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

The ACU scored 84 roll call votes as part of its ratings, including bills banning government vaccine passports, changing certificate of need rules, making Tennessee a gun rights “sanctuary state,” banning students from participating in sports not corresponding to the gender listed at birth, opting out of federal unemployment benefit enhancements, and banning “critical race theory” in schools.

Here are the ratings:

SenatorPartyDist.20212020Lifetime
Akbari, RaumeshD2923%38%29%
Bailey, PaulR1587%79%87%
Bell, MikeR980%75%85%
Bowling, JaniceR1683%75%85%
Briggs, RichardR778%71%80%
Campbell, HeidiD2026%n/a26%
Crowe, RustyR381%75%82%
Gardenhire, ToddR1073%75%82%
Gilmore, BrendaD1928%29%25%
Haile, FerrellR1883%71%86%
Hensley, JoeyR2882%62%85%
Jackson, EdR2783%76%85%
Johnson, JackR2384%75%88%
Kelsey, BrianR3185%77%87%
Kyle, SaraD3027%28%31%
Lundberg, JonR485%77%85%
Massey, BeckyR679%76%79%
Mcnally, RandyR578%72%85%
Niceley, FrankR881%79%81%
Pody, MarkR1782%n/a85%
Powers, BillR2283%76%79%
Reeves, ShaneR1485%76%84%
Roberts, KerryR2587%79%89%
Robinson, KatrinaD33n/a†n/a38%
Rose, PaulR3283%79%83%
Southerland, SteveR181%71%83%
Stevens, JohnR2483%75%89%
Swann, ArtR283%n/a81%
Walley, PageR2678%n/a78%
Watson, BoR1185%76%87%
White, DawnR1385%76%90%
Yager, KenR1279%74%82%
Yarbro, JeffD2128%38%36%
RepresentativePartyDist.20212020Lifetime
Alexander, RebeccaR786%n/a86%
Baum, CharlieR3786%82%86%
Beck, CarsonD5138%23%28%
Boyd, ClarkR4685%82%89%
Bricken, RushR4785%79%82%
Calfee, KentR3286%81%82%
Campbell, ScottyR377%n/a77%
Camper, KarenD8739%n/a25%
Carr, DaleR1287%79%78%
Carringer, MicheleR1685%n/a85%
Casada, GlenR6387%79%87%
Cepicky, ScottR6480%79%85%
Chism, JesseD8542%35%38%
Clemmons, JohnD5533%23%23%
Cochran, MarkR2381%76%82%
Cooper, BarbaraD86n/a†n/a22%
Crawford, JohnR192%84%87%
Curcio, MichaelR6988%84%86%
Darby, TandyR7683%n/a83%
Dixie, VincentD5422%24%20%
Doggett, ClayR7083%81%86%
Eldridge, RickR1085%85%87%
Faison, JeremyR1186%81%86%
Farmer, AndrewR1786%78%82%
Freeman, BobD5635%30%31%
Gant, RonR9488%82%84%
Garrett, JohnnyR4588%83%87%
Gillespie, JohnR9789%n/a89%
Griffey, BruceR7594%86%89%
Grills, RustyR7785%79%82%
Hakeem, YusufD2833%33%36%
Halford, CurtisR7986%82%87%
Hall, MarkR2488%79%87%
Hardaway, G. A.D9334%34%21%
Harris, TorreyD9028%n/a28%
Haston, KirkR7283%71%81%
Hawk, DavidR586%79%87%
Hazlewood, PatsyR2782%71%80%
Helton, EstherR3086%79%85%
Hicks, GaryR985%82%83%
Hicks, TimR685%n/a85%
Hodges, JasonD6738%27%31%
Holsclaw, JohnR486%79%85%
Howell, DanR2288%78%86%
Hulsey, BudR2n/a†88%88%
Hurt, ChrisR8285%81%87%
Jernigan, DarrenD6044%40%32%
Johnson, CurtisR6886%82%86%
Johnson, GloriaD1326%21%17%
Keisling, KellyR3877%69%75%
Kumar, SabiR6686%78%83%
Lafferty, JustinR8994%97%94%
Lamar, LondonD9133%31%28%
Lamberth, WilliamR4483%77%84%
Leatherwood, TomR9988%85%88%
Littleton, MaryR7890%81%91%
Love, HaroldD5833%26%24%
Lynn, SusanR5789%74%86%
Mannis, EddieR1876%n/a76%
Marsh, PatR6286%79%84%
McKenzie, SamD1540%n/a40%
Miller, LarryD8840%38%27%
Mitchell, BoD5034%28%26%
Moody, DebraR8187%79%90%
Moon, JeromeR886%79%85%
Ogles, BrandonR61n/a†81%86%
Parkinson, AntonioD9837%27%29%
Potts, JasonD59n/a†28%30%
Powell, JasonD5328%26%25%
Powers, DennisR3685%85%91%
Ragan, JohnR3388%82%89%
Ramsey, RobertR2087%79%77%
Reedy, JayR7488%90%90%
Rudd, TimR3489%84%88%
Rudder, IrisR3985%85%86%
Russell, LowellR2186%81%86%
Sexton, CameronR2588%82%89%
Sexton, JerryR3586%85%88%
Shaw, JohnnyD8055%43%41%
Sherrell, PaulR4386%82%85%
Smith, RobinR2686%79%85%
Sparks, MikeR4990%82%88%
Stewart, MikeD5222%26%14%
Terry, BryanR4892%n/a90%
Thompson, DwayneD9632%33%34%
Todd, ChrisR7385%81%85%
Towns, JoeD8438%27%23%
Travis, RonR31n/a†n/a84%
Vaughan, KevinR9585%78%82%
Warner, ToddR9288%n/a88%
Weaver, TerriR4079%85%88%
White, MarkR8383%71%81%
Whitson, SamR6582%70%78%
Williams, RyanR4286%79%88%
Windle, JohnD4174%59%62%
Wright, DavidR1986%82%87%
Zachary, JasonR1480%n/a80%

*It’s unclear why Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) is not included in the rankings. He missed the entire regular session due to a COVID-19 hospitalization, but returned for the special sessions later this year.