Did Politics Help Tennessee Win the Race to the Top?

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The Obama administration insists politics will play no part in the Race to the Top competition. But that's not stopping other states from making that claim after little, unimportant Tennessee and Delaware became the only winners in the contest's first round.

Some say Tennessee and Delaware won because the administration is trying to help Democrats in both states win statewide 2010 elections--Mike McWherter in the governor's race in our case.

But more interesting--and more likely--is the Education Week speculation that the administration is courting swing votes for its effort to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del . . . are the ranking minority members in the subcommittees in their respective chambers dealing with K-12 policy, and both are considered leading moderate voices on education who have worked well with Democrats in the past. In fact, in an interview with the Washington Post's David Broder, Secretary Duncan singled out Alexander and Castle as the two Republicans who had offered ideas that were incorporated into the administration's ESEA blueprint.

So if this is true, it wasn't Gov. Phil Bredesen and state lawmakers who won $500 million for Tennessee. It was Alexander. Who knew? According to Bredesen, Tennessee would have lost if politics were a consideration. Cue the video:

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