Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s Administration was on the losing side of two landslides through legislative endorsements in Tuesday’s Republican primary elections in northeastern Indiana. These contests featured matchups between defenders of the Pence Administration’s re-branding of Common Core, and education reformers. In 2012, Hoosier republicans used the ballot box to voice their concern over the Common Core by ousting Tony Bennett, and this election proves they will continue to do so.
Lack of Gubernatorial Clout in Tuesday’s GOP Primaries
Gov. Pence endorsed State Rep. Kathy Heuer over Christopher Judy in HD83 (parts of Whitley and Allen Counties). Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann endorsed State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki over Curt Nisly in HD22 (parts of Kosciusko and Elkhart Counties). Hoosiers Against Common Core endorsed Judy and Nisly.
In addition to the endorsements, Lt. Gov. Ellspermann spent Election Day greeting voters at the polls in HD83 and HD22 on behalf of Reps. Heuer and Kubacki. Despite all this help from the Governor’s offices, Christopher Judy beat Kathy Heuer 57%-43%, and Curt Nisly beat Rebecca Kubacki 65%-35%.
Common Core Emerges as Campaign Theme
Both challengers reported Common Core was an issue of concern with voters as they went door-to-door in their districts. When voters challenged Kubacki and Heure on their position regarding the Common Core, they acknowledged their votes against the Common Core pause bill in 2013, but claimed vindicated on the issue by voting yes on SB91, which mandated new standards to replace the Common Core.
However, this wasn’t enough to console voters who viewed SB91 as a ruse to fool Common Core opponents. The legislation gave the appearance of voiding the Common Core while the Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation walked it through the backdoor.
When questioned in an article on Politico about the new standards, Heuer claimed that the issue was a “conundrum,” she explained that she was against the Common Core, but supported the new standards and felt they were well aligned to Indiana’s previous standards. National experts contracted by the state to review the new standards have called them a “cut and paste job” and a “Common Core rebrand,” which caused voters to be skeptical of her position.
Judy and Nisly have a firm stance on the Common Core and recognized there is still work to be done on the issue:
Christopher Judy joined Hoosiers Against Common Core on stage at the Statehouse for a rally to protest the adoption of the new standards before the Indiana Education Roundtable vote on April 21st. His message has always been consistent on the issue:
“I’m against the nationalization of our education system,” Judy said. “Education works best locally. Parents, teachers and school boards should have a high involvement in the standards.” (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette)
“Reps. Rebecca Kubacki and Kathy Heuer lost to challengers Curt Nisly and Christopher Judy, respectively. Nisly and Judy both put up a major fight against the Common Core in the state and made the fight against the standards one of their top campaign issues.”
Republicans haven’t, and won’t, get far on the false premise that they “got rid” of Common Core in Indiana, especially after students return to school this fall and find the Common Core aligned textbooks and lesson plans still intact, fuzzy math and all. When parents realize they have been misled, the worst part of the Common Core battle will come forth; when it does, the opposition will be stronger and the outrage directed at Republicans.