Stanley has served in leadership roles in many Republican organizations. In 1995, he was the Vice-Chair of Finance of the Shelby County Republican Party. From 1995 to 1997, he was the State Chairman of the Tennessee Young Republican Federation. From 1997 to 1999, he was the Vice-Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation. From 1998 until 2001, he was a member of the Republican State Executive Committee. Before becoming a state senator, Stanley was the Minority Floor Leader in the state House of Representatives. In 2006 he was elected to the State Senate where he served as Chairman of the Commerce, Labor and Agriculture committee. He stepped down from his Senate seat in August of 2009 for personal and family reasons.