It’s official: both Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry failed to qualify for the Virginia GOP primary ballot, joining Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman as write-in candidates. Except write-ins are illegal on Virginia primary ballots.
So, it looks like Virginia GOP voters will get a choice between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, unless the Republican Party of Virginia does some major rule bending, rewriting, and/or shredding.
To say that this does not reflect well upon the candidates who couldn’t qualify for the Virginia ballot is an understatement, especially since it’s Newt Gingrich’s current home state by residence. The Gingrich campaign is not taking it well, according to a Reuters report:
Despite Gingrich’s last-minute effort to submit his petitions by Thursday’s deadline, the state party said on its website on Saturday that a verification process showed he had not submitted the 10,000 signatures required to qualify for the primary.
The Virginia state board of elections earlier said Gingrich, among the top three Republican candidates nationally, had made the ballot with 11,050 signatures.
“Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot,” Gingrich campaign director Michael Krull said. “Voters deserve the right to vote for any top contender, especially leading candidates.
“We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia to pursue an aggressive write-in campaign to make sure that all the voters of Virginia are able to vote for the candidate of their choice,” Krull said.
After Gingrich staged two campaign events in the state last week, his campaign was confident he had made the ballot even as his last-minute scramble raised concerns about Gingrich’s abilities to run a national campaign.
I’m not sure what an “aggressive write-in campaign” would look like, if write-in votes are illegal in the state. I have a feeling the Romney and Paul campaigns might have something to say about last-minute rules rewriting, and it wouldn’t just be a dirty trick by campaign lawyers scrambling to preserve their stranglehold on the state. The rules were clear, and Romney and Paul complied with them.
Virginiageddon not only raises doubts about the quality of the national Gingrich and Perry campaigns (the latter of which had plenty of funding for a better effort in Virginia.) It will also send shock waves back to the earlier and concurrent primaries, where voters will wonder why they should bother voting for candidates who are already guaranteed to come up with zilch in Virginia.