Beavers’ effectiveness debated (& her letter to challenger Boyd)

Clark Boyd, a former chairman of the Wilson County Republican Party, says he is challenging Sen. Mae Beavers, a 20-year veteran lawmaker, mainly because he believes she has lost her effectiveness, reports The Tennessean.

But the Mt. Juliet Republican takes exception… She points to a recent review by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, which found her to be one of the state’s most effective — as well as conservative — members.

The controversies Beavers stirs up have come at the expense of constituent services, he says. Her ability to deliver on promises has been compromised as less senior lawmakers jump over her in the legislative hierarchy. Meanwhile, Republicans in the district have been divided into camps that favor Beavers or her rivals.

“I think she was the right person for the job 10 years ago,” said Boyd. “It’s like she got into self-promotion mode, and a lot of career politicians do that.”

…Beavers makes no apologies for such (controversial) measures. She says they spark debate, even if they don’t become law.

“I bring a bill, and I don’t count the votes,” she said. “I want the discussion.”

…But Boyd says such measures come at a price. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey stripped Beavers of her chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee in 2013, and she also has lost her position as Senate Republican Caucus treasurer.

Those demotions demonstrate Beavers’ diminished stature, says Boyd. Businesspeople and Republican leaders in the district complain to him, he says, that Beavers can no longer deliver when they ask her for help.

“Occasionally conservatives do need their senator to do something for them,” he said. “And people are finding the senator is not very effective.”

Boyd has been endorsed by two lawmakers in the district: state Rep. Susan Lynn and U.S. Rep. Diane Black.

Note: Beavers recently wrote an open letter to Boyd, distributing copies to media. It’s below.

Letter from Sen. Mae Beavers to challenger Clark Boyd:

July 25, 2014

Dear Clark,

I hope this message finds you well. I suspect you have enjoyed spending time in this great district over the last few months (I know you haven’t lived here for very long, but I am sure you will now join me in saying that we live in one of the most beautiful areas in Tennessee with some of the most hardworking citizens). Anyway, I wanted to write to you as a courtesy, in the event you have been given some misinformation recently. I know that you do not have any legislative experience, so I thought I would educate you (and believe me, I mean no disrespect; quite frankly, I would not know the first thing about selling insurance and would likely make the same mistakes if I was trying to be an insurance salesman like you).

First, you keep mentioning that I am the “third least conservative member” of the State Senate, per a ranking from the American Conservative Union. I wanted you to know that the ACU made a few mistakes in calculating the votes for that survey, and that, in actuality, I voted with the ACU on all 10 of the bills on which they based their ratings – which means that I should have actually received a 100% conservative rating. (Although with that said, I hold no hard feelings, as they still awarded me, as well as Rep. Mark Pody and Rep. Susan Lynn, the “ACU Conservative” award.)

The mistakes they made included my vote on SB125, which was commonly known as the “Voter ID” bill. I certainly agree that the integrity of our ballot box must be protected, and that is why I originally voted against someone being able to use a college ID to vote. Luckily, the house sponsor, your good friend Rep. Susan Lynn, heard my (as well as Sen. Campfield, Sen. Summerville and Sen. Bell’s) concerns and deleted that provision of the bill, and then, on April 4, 2013, I proudly cast my vote for the bill as amended.

You have also been misinformed about another bill – one that codified case law in our state concerning comparative fault/joint and several liability in civil lawsuits (I know it probably sounds like a complicated subject, but I would be glad to explain it to you at length). But basically, on February 11, 2013, I cast my vote in support of this tort reform bill. The ACU made an error and must have not seen this vote, and apparently only looked at my later vote against a House Amendment that weakened the original conservative bill I had voted for.

I know that you are a Sunday school teacher and a deacon, and that you would not intentionally mislead people, so I just wanted you to know the truth about some of the erroneous information that someone must have given you. I am certainly not perfect, but I am proud of my record, and have been recognized by many organizations as the most (or the second-most, per the Sunlight Foundation’s recent rankings) conservative member of the Senate.

Finally, I wanted to thank you for your past service in the Reserve and the National Guard. My husband was once a full-time serviceman in the Airforce – and early on, I stayed at home raising our young children before running a small business of my own – so I know and appreciate the sacrifices that you have made for our country, as well as the sacrifices undoubtedly made by your wife.

Thank for your time, and I wish you the best of luck.

Sincerely,
Mae Beavers

P.S. – In the future, you can research the bills that we vote on, including the bill summaries, votes, and videos of the debates, by going to http://www.capitol.tn.gov/. For information on SB125, see: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=SB0125, and for SB56, see:http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=SB0056