Debates are erupting across the country over the Common Core education standards adopted by 45 states, but the controversy has especially deep significance in Florida, home of Jeb Bush, a Common Core champion and still the most influential GOP leader in the state.
Gov. Rick Scott's position on Common Core remains murky, as tea party activists agitate to scrap the standards. But in a new Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll, more than a hundred of Florida's savviest political players see little chance the state will end up pulling out of Common Core.
Seventy percent of our Insiders predict Common Core will stand in Florida three years after its implementation began, and 30 percent predict Florida will pull out.
The most common factor cited? Bush.
"Jeb Bush is too powerful in Florida Republican politics and he normally gets what he wants," said one Democrat.
From a Republican: "The (Florida GOP) is more afraid of Jeb Bush than they are their voters, so all of this is a lot of noise — Common Core is going to happen."
And an independent: "Rick Scott wants Jeb Bush's endorsement and support in next year's gubernatorial race. That will be the only thing that saves Common Core."
Participants in the poll include political consultants, fundraisers, lobbyists, academics and a few recovering political journalists. Fifty-five Republicans, 41 Democrats and 11 people registered to neither party participated in our latest Insider Poll. Their names are on the Buzz blog, tampabay.com/buzz.
Respondents were nearly evenly divided on whether Florida will drop out of the testing consortium aligned with Common Core, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
Asked how much influence the tea party activist wing of Florida's Republican Party has in the Common Core decision making, 60 percent of our Insiders said, "some," 26 percent said "a lot," 13 percent said "not much," and 1 percent said "none." Among Republicans, 20 percent said "a lot" and 65 percent said "some."
"Unfortunately, this is an issue that has galvanized the Glenn Beck crowd in the Republican Party and is being portrayed as Obama mind control over our impressionable youth," one Republican lamented. "It will be the RINO (Republican In Name Only) litmus test in 2014. And, like most political litmus tests, it will push politicians to take public positions that they privately concede are stupid. Common Core will die, and Florida will confirm its status as the Wacko State."
Offered a Democrat: "The fact that this debate is even happening in Tallahassee shows that the era of Jeb in Tallahassee is over."
Morgan's big role
Personal injury lawyer and ubiquitous TV presence John "For the People" Morgan may wind up as one of the most important players in the 2014 election cycle. Not only is he leading the campaign to legalize medical marijuana, but he is likely to have a key role in helping his most prominent employee win the Governor's Mansion.
Check him out on Political Connections today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
A lot of people chuckled when a giant image of a smiling Charlie Crist appeared on a Morgan and Morgan billboard overlooking the Governor's Mansion earlier this year.
Morgan said in the interview the billboard was an accident and he actually gets along with Gov. Scott.
"I get along with him pretty well and like him a lot and like his wife, so somebody told me we had a Charlie Crist billboard by the Capitol. I said take it down. I don't want Rick to think I'm just messing with him," Morgan said, whose billboard now features him and his family.
Quote of the week
"It only takes one with passion — look at Rosa Parks, Lech Walesa, Martin Luther King. People with passion that speak up, they'll have people follow them because they believe the same way, and smart leadership listens to that." That's U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, quoted in the New York Times on how tea party conservatives forced House Speaker John Boehner to cave on a vote to defund Obamacare.
A tie across groups
Just how close is St. Petersburg's mayoral race? Remarkably so. Not only are Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman essentially tied overall, according to the latest Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll, but they're tied with every subset of voters:
Voters 18-54: Foster 41 percent, Kriseman 39 percent. Voters 55 and up: Foster 37 percent, Kriseman 40 percent. White voters: Foster 39 percent, Kriseman 41 percent. Black voters: Foster 38 percent, Kriseman 38 percent. Male voters: Foster 40 percent, Kriseman 39 percent. Female voters: Foster 38 percent, Kriseman 41 percent.
Reporter Tia Mitchell contributed to this week's Buzz.