From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

How Common Core Killed Conventional GOP Candidates


From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

I wanted to piggy back on what Paul wrote last week about an article written by Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard. Barnes said that governors making the best presidential candidates is conventional unwisdom.

I agree. The crop of candidates who are governors or were previously governors have demonstrated time and time and time again that they will put pragmatism above principles. One such instance is with the Common Core State Standards.

Barnes notes that this is a serious problem for the remaining governors in 2016:

A serious problem for Republican governors has been all but ignored by the media and the political community: Common Core. It requires state standards for K-12 students on what they should know in math and what’s called English language arts. In numerous states, parents have revolted against Common Core for downgrading the teaching of traditional math and literature.

The issue has been unsettling for the campaigns of Bush, Kasich, Walker, and New Jersey’s Chris Christie. They have sought to separate themselves from Common Core after initially endorsing it. Bush, for instance, says the federal government needs to stay out of Common Core. Walker waffled, and this contributed to his demise as a presidential candidate.

In Washington, the conservative American Principles Project is spearheading a national effort against Common Core. And it has begun to draw media attention to the issue, one whose impact has been underestimated.

If you look at The Pulse 2016‘s report card that was completed for Republican presidential candidates on Common Core, you’ll find that governors (minus former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, both of whom dropped out of the race for other reasons) did not score well.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker received a D+ and is now out of the race. He attempted to call an opt-out bill a repeal of the Common Core when it was nothing of the sort. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee received a C, which is the better score for the remaining governors, but he has struggled to gain the support of some grassroots conservatives who don’t trust him on the issue because of his previous support, even though he has been vocally against the Common Core since joining the 2016 race.

Christie earned a D+. His Common Core review panel was pretty much a sham; he called on parents not to opt their kids out of PARCC and has been unwilling to take New Jersey out of the fledgling Common Core assessment consortia.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush receives an F because of his vocal support of Common Core. He has tried to downplay his support, but activists aren’t having it. He also supported the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, something that is wildly unpopular with grassroots conservatives.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has been vocally supportive of Common Core and has belittled parents who disagree. Is it any wonder he hasn’t gained any traction?

Common Core is an issue that has dogged these candidates. Whether or not the media reports on it, or the political class even wants to acknowledge it, Common Core is a serious problem for the remaining governors, enough so that it seems unlikely any will win the GOP nomination.

Shane Vander Hart is the online communications manager for American Principles in Action, a frequent contributor to, and the editor of Iowa-based

Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart, an Iowa native, is the online communications manager for the American Principles Project and a frequent contributor to Shane is also the Editor-in-Chief for, a popular Christian conservative blog.

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