When Gov. Rick Scott seeks a replacement for Broward School Board Member Katie Leach who announced her resignation today, there is one hot topic he could ask candidates about: their position on the Common Core State Standards.
In September, Scott ordered the state education department to withdraw from a national consortium creating tests around the standards but didn’t dismiss the benchmarks.
Many of the issues school board members face are non-partisan, but the debate about Common Core has become increasingly polarized and has fans and critics from both major parties. On Monday night, the Broward Republican Executive Committee passed a resolution against Common Core.
“I believe the minutes are going to say it was a unanimous voice vote and nobody was heard to say they were against it,” said party chairman Tom Truex.
Certainly the Broward school board doesn’t have much (well, any) power to dictate statewide decisions about Common Core. But who Scott chooses to replace Leach -- one of two Republicans on the Democratic-dominated board -- could reflect his own views about Common Core.
Leach stepping down gives Scott an opportunity to appoint a replacement who could help him score points with Republican or independent voters in Broward when he faces re-election next year. The county has one of the largest contingents of GOP voters in the state: almost 250,000 -- plus 280,000 independents. (Leach stepped down because her husband got a job in another state.)
Any Scott appointee for the seat is certain to face a challenge from a Democrat if the person runs for election. Though Leach had some support from the Broward GOP, she didn’t run on a Republican platform and had the backing of Parrish, one of the county’s longer serving elected Democrats.
Leach, along with Donna Korn, were the two Republicans who won seats on the school board in 2012 -- rare GOP victories for Broward last year.
The school board receives more tax money than any other political body in the county which is why the Broward GOP sees any appointees as important.
“They control so much money ... we want conservative thoughtful people in those positions,” Truex said.
The browardbeat blog reported that potential appointees include Heather Brinkworth, a member of the city’s Education Advisory Committee; Wanda Ross, wife of former Chief Judge Dale Ross. Another on that list -- Lauren Book, daughter of lobbyist Ron Book, told Naked Politics that she is not interested in seeking an appointment or running for the seat because she is focused on her organization Lauren's Kids.
Former state legislator Ellyn Bogdanoff told Naked Politics that she is not seeking an appointment and doesn't plan to run for the seat.
"Been there, done that," said Bogdanoff who lost her school board race in 1996. (Bodanoff said she will decide whether to challenge Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, in the first quarter of next year. Sachs beat Bogdanoff last year.)
Bogdanoff said she is supporting Brinkworth whose children attend Broward public schools.
Brinkworth, of Fort Lauderdale, first registered in Broward in 1986 as a Republican and switched to independent in 2000, according to Broward election records. On Oct. 22, she changed her registration back to Republican.
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