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Beltway Insiders: For Education, Florida Governor's Race Is One to Watch

The gubernatorial duel in Florida between sitting Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist is shaping up to be the hottest one in the country for education policy wonks.

Seventy-one percent of Washington insiders surveyed in January by Whiteboard Advisors, a consulting firm, think that the Florida gubernatorial race is the most important one to watch for education. They also think New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Georgia gubernatorial races are important races to follow.

In Florida, Crist, a Republican-turned-Democrat, is duking it out with Gov. Scott over education, accusing him of underfunding schools and even skipping his own education summit.

Also noteworthy in Whiteboard's January survey is that the approval rating for the Obama administration among insiders plummeted from a near-record-low in November (35 percent) to a mere 21 percent this month. (Maybe the insiders don't like the department's new NCLB monitoring reports? Or maybe they didn't agree with the new round of Race to the Top district winners?) Of course, count on Congress to earn an even lower approval rating, at 7 percent.

And the latest mini-Arne Duncan scandal—the one in which he reportedly lobbied New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to pass over Montgomery County schools' chief Joshua Starr for that city's top K-12 job—hardly surprised anyone.  Nearly 75 percent of insiders say they were not surprised by Duncan's supposed advocacy role. What's more, 69 percent said his involvement did not matter.

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