In a critical battleground region that one activist labeled “the most important county of the most important state” for presidential politics, conservatives have a succinct message: #StopJebNow.
The hashtag was used this weekend to spread the word about a rally to be held by grass roots activists outside a Republican National Committee fundraising event in Cincinnati where former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – one of the leading GOP advocates for the Common Core K-12 math and English standards—will be the keynote speaker Monday afternoon.
“The Republican candidate in 2016 needs to be on the right side of Common Core,” Heidi Huber, founder of Ohioans Against Common Core, told TheBlaze. “It’s fed ed and needs to be repealed.”
The RNC last year adopted a resolution opposing Common Core as imposing a national education program. The Hamilton County, Ohio, Republican committee also adopted the same resolution.
Because the event was only recently planned, Huber doesn’t anticipate a massive turnout – particularly since it will be at rush hour in downtown Cincinnati, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Queen City Club. The RNC event starts at 5 p.m.
“What today’s event is about is ‘stop Jeb now,’” she said. “Ultimately, money doesn’t buy elections. Our message to the party is we have the same goal as you guys. We want to get someone elected who can save the party. But far more imperative is saving our children’s future.”
She said even if big donors line up behind Bush, the grassroots conservative base will not.
“This is not going to fly in the most important county of the most important state,” Huber said. “The RNC has come out with a resolution condemning Common Core for the same reason any old-school Republican would, for the same reason Ronald Reagan would: You don’t want the federal government running education.”
Hamilton County went blue for the first time in four decades in 2008, then did so again in 2012. The county is often viewed as a bellwether for the rest of Ohio, which can be the defining swing state in a presidential race.
Huber said they hope to send RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and the entire RNC the message that the conservatives in the county won’t accept Bush or Common Core in 2016.
The White House-backed Common Core State Standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Chief State School Officers. Opponents – increasingly from both sides of the political spectrum – have criticized the standards as a de facto national program because adopting Common Core has been linked with federal Department of Education funding.
In an interview in March with ABC News, Bush explained why he was an advocate for Common Core.
“The Common Core standards in language arts and math are important because it creates greater transparency,” Bush said. “It’s the kind of system where you have a common expectation and can have a thousand different flowers bloom as it relates to curriculum. It won’t homogenize. It will be diverse and alive. … This is a national imperative. It’s not a federal program.”
While 44 states and the District of Columbia adopted the standards, three states – Indiana, South Carolina and Oklahoma – have repealed the standards. Numerous other states are either considering repeal or debating the implementation.
“Today’s event is obviously partisan because it goes against a basic tenet of the Republican platform of no nationalizing education,” Huber said. “But there are plenty of unionized teachers that agree with us. Today’s event is partisan. But this is not a partisan issue.”