The national conservative group, American Conservative Union (ACU), known for its "gold-standard" ratings of Congress is coming to Colorado. Last week the group that owns conservative.org and runs the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) announced that it would add the Colorado Legislature to its growing list of state legislatures it will grade.
ACU has been grading Congress on its votes since 1971 and its ratings have appeared in countless TV commercials and radio spots, especially in GOP primaries.
Last year the ACU began rating state legislators votes, starting with an initial five states including Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. This year the group is adding Colorado in addition to California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“Building on our legacy at the federal level, one of the American Conservative Union’s chief goals is ensuring voters know where their state elected representatives stand on the issues most important to conservatives,” said ACU Chairman Al Cardenas in a press release. “In its first year, our State Legislative Ratings program was extraordinarily well received – garnering significant attention from state legislators, grassroots leaders and activists and the media. The ACU is proud to expand this successful young initiative to a total of 15 states in the critical 2012 election year.”
This is a great thing for conservatives, adding another piece of data to analyze the voting records of state Representatives and Senators. It will also complement the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT) scorecard, which has been criticized for some erroneous ratings — like putting conservative stalwart Senator Brophy at only 55/100 in 2011 (PDF). All rating systems have their shortcomings, as they depend on what bills the group decides to include. Having more ratings will allow for a more vibrant understanding of conservatism in the Capitol.
It is also a mark of the importance of Colorado to the national political dialogue. Colorado's smashing 2-1 defeat of the $3 billion tax increase known as Prop 103 helped send the signal to politicians across the country that Americans feel they are Taxed Enough Already. What happens here matters.
With Colorado set to be a deciding state in the Presidential election, national political observers will be watching what happens here. The message that the ACU is sending by rating Colorado legislators is that the national spotlight is here to stay.