Pressure is mounting on Oklahoma Republican Gov. Mary Fallin to sign a bill that pulls the state out of national Common Core standards.
The bill, which would make Oklahoma the second state to drop the controversial educational standards following Indiana this spring, was approved by overwhelming margins in Oklahoma’s legislature. It passed the House 71-18 and the Senate 31-10.
Those margins would be decisive enough to override a gubernatorial veto, but the state legislature has recessed for the year, meaning a veto by Fallin would kill the bill for the rest of the year unless a special session is convened.
Fallin could also just let the bill die by pocket veto if she fails to sign it by June 2.
The situation puts Fallin in a bind. Like most Republican governors, she has long been a backer of Common Core, and some GOP-friendly groups, such as the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce, are big proponents as well.
Grassroots opposition is fierce, however, and the decisive vote in the state legislature indicates the increasing unpopularity of Fallin’s position. A petition created by one of the state’s Republican National Committee members, Carolyn McLarty, has picked up about 1,000 signatures in only a day, while Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE), an anti-Common Core group, is spearheading an email and letter campaign.
Fallin’s choice is also complicated by her reelection campaign. While Oklahoma is a deep red state nationally, hervictory this fall isn’t assured. Before Fallin’s election in 2010, the state twice elected Democrat Brad Henry to the governor’s mansion. Fallin’s likely opponent, state Rep. Joe Dorman, is anti-abortion, has a higher rating from the NRA and has been an outspoken foe of Common Core for years, negating many of the vulnerabilities that could have made him unpalatable to the Sooner State.
Dorman told The Daily Caller News Foundation that “many, many Republicans” have told him they would be willing to back him over the issue of Common Core.
Jenni White, president of ROPE, says that “without question” there are many Oklahoma residents willing to flip their votes based on the issue.
At least one Republican lawmaker agreed, telling TheDCNF that dissatisfaction with Fallin is building within the party. He cited her recent overridden vetoes of several pro-gun measures and a law revising the state’s third-grade reading standards.
There would be “consequences” for yet another veto, he said, adding that he thought defiance on Common Core could endanger not only Governor Fallin’s reelection but also the prospects of Republicans down-ballot.
However, Republican state Rep. Jason Nelson, a coauthor of the Common Core repeal bill, dismissed the possibility that the issue could prove decisive. He emphasized that many issues were of importance in Oklahoma and said he thought few people would switch their vote solely due to Common Core. He did add, though, that signing the bill would only help Fallin.
“If she does sign it, it certainly tales [the issue] off the table,” he said.
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