The American Conservative Union released its 2015 rankings of state legislators (PDF). Eleven senators and 13 House members received its “award for conservative excellence,” which means they voted at least 90% of the time with the group’s position on bills. Another seven senators and 27 House members received awards for “conservative achievement” by scoring at least 80%.
The group’s board members include Ambassador John Bolton, former U.S. House Speaker Tom Delay and Grover Norquist.
While there were many similarities, some scores differed notably from other conservative groups’ rankings released since the end of the legislative session.
The Senate “excellence” rankings included all the Republican freshmen – including seven of those calling themselves the “Liberty 8” – plus Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills). Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). The eighth member of the “Liberty 8,” Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), was among the “achievement” senators.
Retiring Sens. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) and Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) were also among the senators in the “achievement” group. The only Republican senators not on either list were Sens. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo). Nichols was the lowest scoring Senate Republican at 72%, tying him with Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville), the highest scoring Democrat. Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio), who is accused by his primary opponent of being too close to Republicans, scored a 39%, slightly higher than the Democratic average.
On the House side, just nine of the 19 members who voted for Rep. Scott Turner (R-Frisco) were placed on the “excellence” list. Reps. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), Will Metcalf (R-Conroe), Ed Thompson (R-Portland) and James White (R-Hillster), who voted for Speaker Joe Straus, were also award “excellence” status. One of the votes for Turner, Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) did not make either list with her 72% score. She scored below Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas), whose challenger considers him to be too liberal.
Reps. Angie Chen Button (R-Garland). Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), John Cyrier (R-Lockhart), Dan Flynn (R-Van) and Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) were highlighted by the group for “conservative achievement” yet are being challenged by conservative opponents backed by Empower Texans and other anti-Straus donors and groups.
Reps. Sarah Davis (R-Houston), J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville) and J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville) were the lowest scoring Republicans at 58%, slightly higher than Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), the highest scoring Democrat.
Also of note, Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) scored a 24%, 2 points below Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio). Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) scored 100% – the only House member to do so – and Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) scored 89%. They are running to replace Eltife, who scored 89%.
Not one Texas legislator ended up in the “coalition of the radical left,” which required a score of less than 10%. By contrast, California has 21 senators and 41 representatives on that list.