Brinkman wins anti-Common Core battle

The following appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer on 3/16/16

Brinkman wins anti-Common Core battle

by, Jessie Balmert, jbalmert@enquirer.com
3/16/16

Tom Brinkman
Tom Brinkman

Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr. eked out a win over former supporter Heidi Huber in a battle over who loathed nationwide Common Core standards more.

Brinkman, of Mount Lookout, won by just 359 votes — 1.5 percent of those cast — in unofficial results that don’t include about 1,000 provisional ballots that will be counted in the next 10 days. That’s just outside the 0.5 percent margin needed to trigger an automatic recount. Candidates who lose tight races can request a recount at their own expense, but Huber said she won’t.

“I don’t know if it changes the ultimate outcome,” Huber said. “I think he’ll prevail.”

Huber and Brinkman waged a competitive, and at times bitter, battle for the House seat in eastern Hamilton County over how to best kill  Common Core educational standards. Huber accused Brinkman of not doing enough to eliminate the much-maligned nationwide standards. Brinkman shot back that he was just one man in a legislature of 132 members — many of whom aren’t too upset about Common Core. Ohio was one of the first states to adopt Common Core standards in 2010 and very few students opt out of state tests, which had been tied to state money for schools.

“While we complain a lot, it is hard to move other legislators when you only have 2 percent actually being against it enough to opt out,” Brinkman said. “The legislators are not moved because they haven’t seen the groundswell.”

A proposal from Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, to eliminate and replace Common Core went nowhere in the GOP-controlled House, and Gov. John Kasich supports the standards. Still, Brinkman said he hasn’t given up. “We just have to attack it a little different way,” he said.

But Huber sees it differently. Brinkman broke a promise he made to eliminate these standards and challenge GOP leadership in Columbus. Instead, he joined the Columbus political machine, she said.

“He is not going to be able to do anything that isn’t approved by the speaker,” Huber said. “That’s exactly why I was running. We want our representative government back.”

Huber beat Brinkman in her native Anderson Township, but Brinkman won areas like Mariemont, Mount Lookout and Indian Hill. Turnout was high with more than 23,725 votes cast — up significantly from about 9,300 cast in the competitive 2014 primary between Brinkman and incumbent Peter Stautberg. Brinkman attributed the closeness of Tuesday’s race to Huber’s vindictive, negative campaign.

“It was kind of like a rising flood,” Brinkman said. “You didn’t know how serious it was going to be.”

Hamilton County Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou gave Huber credit for keeping it close, calling her a smart, relentless candidate. “She has huge energy and a strong base of support,” he added

Brinkman faces Democrat Joe Otis in November. Otis challenged Brinkman in 2014, but lost the heavily Republican district with just 32.3 percent of the vote.

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