Revisiting Florida Tea Party Influence on Common Core

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Florida Public Employees

Tea_PartyJanuary 22, 2014

By:  – Scathing Purple Musings

From Peter Schorsch’s ever useful Sunburn morning mail comes this William March story in the Tampa Tribune which revealed that Florida leads the nation in Tea Party membership: A study by a liberal advocacy group says Florida leads the nation in tea party members and organizations.

The study, done by the Seattle-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights finds Florida, the nation’s third-largest state, edges out the top two, California and Texas, because of the number of tea party members per capita and number of tea party organizations.

The study said Florida has 36,423 tea party members compared to California’s 40,508 and Texas’s 39,442. But Florida outranked them in members per capita, and also scored high in the number of tea party organizations, 69.

The study found that even though sympathy for the tea party has declined somewhat since last fall’s government shutdown controversy, “core membership in the national Tea Party factions remains high, at over half a million people.” The number of tea party supporters, based on social media comments—tweets and Facebook “likes”—rose during 2013.

First, some wet blanket on the study: It was done by “leaders of labor unions and civil rights organizations including the NAACP,” who see any tea party entity as mortal enemies. The actual membership number they came up with is dubious, but their point that “the number of tea party supporters, based on social media comments—tweets and Facebook “likes”—rose during 2013,” is much more significant. This may be reflected in this story from Sarasota Herald-Tribune columnist Lloyd Dunkelberger:

Board member John Colon, a Sarasota businessman and Manatee County resident, said he and a top Department of Education official recently met with 200 Tea Party members from Sarasota and Manatee to talk about the changes.

Colon described the meeting as “a very spirited discussion,” but said the audience members seemed to be appreciative of the state’s efforts to establish its own standards.

“Most of them said they would keep an open mind and they would be watching,” Colon said.

As yesterday’s state board meeting revealed that it was leaning toward accepting Pam Stewart’s “tweaks” to Common Core as “Florida Standards,” the battlefield turns to the Florida House. It is here where tea party opponents of Core have the most influence. As so does the American Legislative Executive Council (ALEC) which is also opposing Core.

Meanwhile, Rick Scott’s likely opponent in November, Charlie Crist,  sits on the sidelines, taking cheap shots at him for the current delay in adopting Core. Crist’s sudden opposition to Core would be characterized as another Crist flip-flop of which he can ill-afford. Core’s opponents can’t expect Crist to suddenly emerge as an ally.

Will the combination of organized tea party support and the political clout of ALEC be enough to sink Core in Florida? Or any other state for that matter?

Yes, because the Republican National Committee is opposed to Common Core, too. They realize that they need tea party voters this fall and in 2016, and know the tea party is doing the heavy lifting on Core right now.


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