How does Bennett think Ritz pulled off what can fairly be described as a big upset? The Common Core State Standards plays a role. Bennett argued that Ritz—who is skeptical of the common core—used the standards to take away conservative voters who otherwise favored him.
Many Republicans are critical of the common core because they say it smacks of too much federal involvement. Bennett, a big champion of the common standards, also said Ritz's victory could jeopardize Indiana's leading role in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, one of two state consortia working on assessments tied to the standards.
"I have some very serious concerns about the future of that program," he said of the testing consortia. And when it came to common standards, Bennett said, "She did a very good job of appealing to the strong conservative base who had problems with the common core. So that's another issue obviously."