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Astorino seeks 'Stop the Common Core' ballot line

People protest at the Common Core Education Forum

People protest at the Common Core Education Forum at Ward Melville High School on Nov. 12, 2013. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

ALBANY -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino said Tuesday he'll create a new ballot line called "Stop the Common Core" as he seeks to use unrest about the controversial academic standards in his bid to upset Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Astorino said he's tapping into a "grassroots movement which has taken hold across this state" that involves "teachers and parents of all stripes." A Cuomo spokesman called it "pandering."

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, acknowledged he's looking to woo people who might not normally get involved or excited about statewide political races, and the Common Core issue highlights a "clear difference between Andrew Cuomo and me."

"'Stop the Common Core,' as a third-party line, will allow parents to be part of this reform movement -- either to cast a protest vote against Common Core or support me on this issue," Astorino said, adding the ballot strategy isn't just about winning. "It's about making a major statement in this state that we believe it is on the wrong path in regards to education."

Cuomo generally has backed the Common Core standards and curriculum, though he has criticized the implementation. He agreed with state legislators to delay the impact of Common Core tests on students' assessments but has linked teachers' evaluations to them.

A Cuomo spokesman defended the standards Tuesday and said withdrawing from the curriculum would hurt New York students.

"The Common Core has been adopted by 45 states and will serve as the basis for the new SAT. These more rigorous standards will be used to help New York students better prepare for college and career," said Peter Kauffmann, state Democratic Party spokesman. "Rob Astorino's pathetic pandering will do nothing more than make New York students less competitive than their peers nationally."

New York is one of three states that actively allow candidates to appear multiple times on a ballot, with different party endorsements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Astorino would have to gather at least 15,000 petition signatures by mid-August to create a Stop Common Core line on the statewide ballot.

Both men already have third-party backing. The governor has the endorsement of the Democratic Party as well as the Working Families Party. Besides Republicans, Astorino has the Conservative Party endorsement.

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