The persistent debate over the national educational standards known as Common Core is forcing Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott to do a delicate political balancing act as he seeks re-election.
Scott relies on the support of conservatives and tea party members who are staunchly opposed to Common Core, while he is also wooing moderate Republicans who support the new standards.
Scott's challenger doesn't have to travel on such a tricky path. Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist supports Common Core, but so do most other Democrats.
"Gov. Scott is straddling this issue as best he can," University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith told the Tampa Bay Times
— adding that Common Core could make a difference in a close race.
The latest Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll showed Scott leading Crist 41 percent to 36 percent, but other polls show a tighter contest, the newspaper notes.
The Common Core State Standards have been adopted in 43 states, including Florida and the District of Columbia. But opposition in Florida is so strong now that Scott ordered the state to pull out of a consortium of states developing Common Core tests.
National support is also waning; a Gallup Poll last month found a large majority of Americans oppose the standards.
Scott, meanwhile, is trying to respond to changing views of the standards by calling for a review, the newspaper reports.
"What Florida wants to do is we have our own standards," Scott said. "We've told the federal government they're not going to dictate how we run our education system, and that's what we're going to continue to do."
But that hasn't satisfied conservative voters.
"This issue could really hurt him," Randy Osborne, a member of the Florida Eagle Forum and the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, told the newspaper.
"If he can't get his base out, he can't win."
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