MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The American Conservative Union (ACU) this week is rolling out its annual list of Alabama’s most conservative and liberal lawmakers, and the organization’s scores may come as a surprise to some legislator’s constituents.
ACU was founded in 1964 and refers to itself as the “nation’s oldest and largest conservative grassroots organization.”
“For more than fifty years, ACU has served as an umbrella organization harnessing the collective strength of conservative organizations fighting for Americans who are concerned with liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values, and strong national defense,” the group says on its website. “As America’s premier conservative voice, ACU is the leading entity in providing conservative positions on issues to Congress, the Executive Branch, State Legislatures, the media, political candidates, and the public.”
The organization has for years released annual conservative ratings for members of the United States House and Senate, and more recently began doing the same at the state level.
Here’s how Alabama legislature stacked up:
In 2015, the average Alabama Senate Republican scored 62% on a scale of 1-100, while the average Senate Democrat scored a 35%.
In the House, the average Republican scored a 48% and the average Democrat scored 46%, leaving very little gap between the two parties.
Only four lawmakers received the ACU’s Award for Conservative Achievement for scoring over 80%.
After calculating last year’s votes, Senators Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) and Priscilla Dunn (D-Bessemer) and Representatives Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) and Randall Shedd (R-Fairview) were rated the legislature’s most liberal members.
Senator Coleman-Madison, who received a 17% rating from the ACU, was first elected to the Senate in 2006 after serving in the House from 2003 to 2006. Before that she was a two-term member of the Birmingham City Council.
Senator Dunn (29%) was first elected in 2009 after her predecessor was convicted on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, bribery and money laundering.
On the House side, Rep. Todd is rated the Alabama legislature’s most liberal member with a 13% ACU score. She is the Alabama legislature’s only openly gay member and has been a vocal proponent of various liberal causes ranging from same-sex marriage to expanding government healthcare via Medicaid.
Rep. Shedd, whose 29% ACU rating makes him the legislature’s most liberal Republican and far more liberal than many Democrats, was elected to the House in a special election to succeed former Rep. Jeremy Oden, who was appointed to the Public Service Commission by Governor Robert Bentley.
The far-left Alabama Education Association pumped money and resources into Shedd’s race, successfully beating back more conservative challengers to get their chosen candidate elected.
Even with the AEA now in shambles, Rep. Shedd has continued to side with the most liberal elements of the legislature.