Rick Scott Hopes to Satisfy Conservative Base on Common Core
Around the State
Rick Scott’s going back to his tea party roots as he stands against the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), an assessment tied with Common Core.
Scott upset Bill McCollum in the Republican primary by playing up his support of the tea party. In the general election, tea party supporters mobilized in force for Scott and helped him defeat Alex Sink. It was fitting that Scott announced his first budget to a tea party group in Eustis.
Conservatives and Republicans aren’t united on Common Core with Jeb Bush and many business groups supporting the standards. But the tea party is clearly hostile to Common Core and they are certainly more passionate about the issue. By slowing down Florida’s path to Common Core, Scott should score points with the tea party while not alienating the business community. While Common Core isn’t an issue that will appeal much to undecided voters one way or the other, Scott should also be able to counter any attacks from his left by pointing to his support for teacher raises.
Scott also has the luxury of knowing who he’ll be taking on next year. With Sink announcing last week she won’t run again, Scott can count on Republicans and business groups that support Common Core falling in line behind him over Charlie Crist. Sink is no conservative but she spent years in banking and always tried to keep her pro-business credentials in order in Tallahassee, even serving on the board of Florida TaxWatch.
Despite his many years as a Republican, Crist is a very different case altogether. Behind Crist stands the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership. Even if they aren’t happy with Scott’s objections to PARCC, Jeb Bush’s circle and business groups will still rather see the governor in office for four more years than Crist returning to power.
Common Core will be on the back burner -- at best -- come the general election next year. Most voters will focus on other issues. But tea partiers would never forgive Scott if he flinched on this issue. While they will never back Crist, some tea partiers could have gone fishing on Election Day if Scott had crossed them on Common Core and Medicaid expansion. By opposing Common Core and pushing more tax cuts, Scott hopes to keep the tea party and businesses in line behind him.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.