The Other McCain

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Report: Huntsman, Bachmann, Santorum Fail to Make Virginia Primary Ballot UPDATE: Close Calls for Newt and Perry

Posted on | December 22, 2011 | 68 Comments

A certain number of petition signatures had to be delivered by close of business today in order for candidates to be included on the ballot for the March 6 Virginia Republican primary.

Rick Santorum supporter Lisa Graas just informed me by e-mail that, according to University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato, three candidates — Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman — failed to collect enough signatures in time to meet the qualifying deadline.

UPDATE: Andrew Cain of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:

Four Republican presidential candidates – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Ron Paul — submitted paper work in time to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot. . . .
Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman did not submit signatures with Virginia’s State Board of Elections by today’s 5 p.m. deadline.
Those who submitted the required signatures must clear another hurdle. The Republican Party of Virginia has until Tuesday to certify which candidates qualify. . . .
The State Board of Elections will turn over the petitions to the respective political parties for validating. Republican will begin the process Friday morning and have sought volunteers to help with the process.
Candidates must submit the signatures of at least 10,000 registered voters, with 400 from each of the 11 Congressional districts.
Romney submitted 16,026 signatures; Paul 14,361; Perry 11,911 and Gingrich 11,050.

UPDATE II: NBC’s Alex Moe reports:

The Gingrich campaign might be able breathe a sigh of relief.
After Newt Gingrich’s third event in less than 24 hours in Virginia, the former House speaker announced that his campaign has secured enough signatures to be on the ballot in the state.

Notice that Perry also barely cleared the 10,000-signature threshold. As Lisa Graas notes below, because some signatures will prove ineligible, it is recommended that candidates get at least 15,000 signatures to qualify. If Romney wants to dispatch lawyers to keep an eye on the validation process, they might be able to disqualify enough petitions to knock Perry and Gingrich off the ballot.

UPDATE III: Hat tip to The Right Scoop on Twitter for this Politico article by Emily Schultheis adding further background:

The state’s primary, which is slated for Super Tuesday on March 6, has some of the most stringent ballot access requirements in the country: 10,000 signatures from registered Virginia voters, including 400 from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. And the elections board recommends getting at least 1.5 times the number of required signatures — 15,000 for presidential candidates — in case any of them are found to be invalid.
Mitt Romney, who filed Tuesday, was the only candidate to get 1.5 times the required number of signatures . . .
The Gingrich campaign had announced yesterday, after “scrambling” to organize in the state, that it had reached the required number of signatures.
The state parties will certify the signatures from each of the candidates and decide by Dec. 27 whether or not the four GOP candidates are eligible to appear on the ballot, Piper said.

UPDATE IV: OK, we’ve nailed down the facts. Now for the big-picture “What Does It Mean?” stuff that’s usually above my paygrade. (Because it’s Thursday evening three days before Christmas, all the super-genius Smart Guy pundits in D.C. are off the clock, so I’ll give it a shot.)

The Right Scoop says, “I wonder if they struggled to get the 10k signatures needed.” And yeah, of course that was the situation.

On a conference call with grassroots supporters last week, a top Santorum staffer had discussed ballot-access issues in several states. Virginia was singled out as a tough one, because of the “stringent” factor described in the Politico article: Not just the 10,000-signature minimum, but you have to get 400 signatures in each of 11 congressional districts, and the deadline hit in the middle of the holiday season, at the same time that the campaigns were going all-out in Iowa.

The Santorum people on the conference call were asking for Virginia volunteers to help with their ballot-access drive, saying they were hoping for a “Christmas miracle.” Given the low-budget situation with the Santorum campaign, they had no other choice but rely on volunteers. (Romney, of course, could afford to hire professional ballot-access people.)

Contrast Santorum’s situation to the ballot shortfalls by Huntsman and Bachmann — both of whom have raised and spent multiples of Santorum’s campaign budget — and Santorum’s shortfall in Virginia, while certainly disappointing, is not nearly as embarrassing as the others.

The fact that Gingrich was “scrambling” to hit the 10,000-signature threshold in Virginia shows the gap between his high-profile “front-runner” status and the relative weakness of his campaign operation.

But certainly the biggest question mark is why Perry could only get about 900 more Virginia signatures than Newt. The Perry campaign had millions of dollars cash-on-hand in early September, and has unloaded a huge amount on TV ads the past month, yet they barely cleared the Virginia ballot threshold? That doesn’t bode well.

So, yeah: Romney’s now looking a bit more likely as the nominee.

UPDATE V: Welcome, Instapundit readers!

Now that I think about it, a wild-card idea: If we assume a four-way Virginia primary between Romney, Newt, Perry and Paul — that is to say, if Romney’s big-money lawyers can’t disqualify either Newt or Perry — could Ron Paul win Virginia?

Think about it: Gingrich and Perry waging an all-out knife-fight to be the “Not Mitt” conservative candidate, both of them taking their shots at Romney. Meanwhile, Paul’s army of fanatics descend on the Old Dominion to turn out every possible libertarian/Constitutionlist/fringe-kook vote. In a four-way primary, if the other three candidates run in the 20%-30% range, couldn’t a maximum effort by the Paulistas produce a shocking upset in Virginia?

War-gaming these crazy possibilities is such fun, isn’t it?

UPDATE VI: Now a Memeorandum thread. I’m sitting here with Fox News on the TV in my home office, and they haven’t even mentioned this story yet. Everything’s all, “Congressional compromise, blah, blah, blah, Iraq, blah, blah, blah.” Maybe they don’t grasp the significance. Probably because their super-genius Smart Guy pundits are all on holiday this week.


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Comments

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    Virginia has always been strict on the petitions.  They DO check registrations – if you sign a petition, the collector should be asking you to sign just as your name and address appear on your registration.

    What trips up many candidates is the requirement for minimum signatures in each congressional district.  People say, “Whew!” when they get the 400th in the farther-flung districts and forget if unregistered people signed, it kills the whole effort. 

    Their deadline, like Florida’s, was pretty early, but now the various deadlines will come in cascading waves, making it next to impossible for anyone else to enter the race with a serious chance to win.

  • Anonymous

    Others have debated Newt one-on-one including Huntsman and it was edifying for those voters who watched and very productive.  It would not make Newt any more the non-Romney candidate than he is now. 

    Romney  knows he can’t win the battle of ideas.  And if he can’t beat Newt in a debate, he won’t be able to stand toe-to-toe with Obama, that’s for sure.

  • http://twitter.com/Vicioussss Vicioussss

    ‘Cause Romney’s surrogates are not attacking the other candidates – hence it is he, in effect, who has made him the “not Romney.”

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  • Anonymous

    Two things are certain: Somebody got fired today and Ron Paul will come in ahead of both Gingrich, Perry and the rest in Virgina. Gingrich, who lives in McLean, Virgina can’t even properly manage to get on the ballot, and that conceited wind-bag wants to run the country?

    Here Newt is being highly critical of Ron Paul’s mistake of inadequately monitoring his newsletter—which happened years ago—meanwhile Newt can’t even keep his campaign on track. Hey Newt, are you and your people really going to shift the blame of your failure to Virgina? Newt, you’ll never be half the man that RP or Gary Johnson are.

    Frankly, I’ve never seen fielded by the Republican party such a sorry bunch of candidates. I don’t count Paul as a Republican, because he’s really a libertarian like Gary Johnson. Ron Paul, including all his imperfections, is the better man out of all the other Republican candidates. The Neocon welfare-warfare machine—including MSM— will come down on Ron Paul with both feet if he wins Iowa and poses a threat in New Hampshire.

    All of you RP supporters better be ready for the nastiest fight that you’ve ever been in. This fight is going to come down to Romney the RINO-vs-Paul the Libertarian.

    I like how somebody summed up the situation”

    “Gingrich (a Virginia resident) and Perry fail to get their names on the primary ballot in Virginia.Only 10,000 signatures were needed. In just 4 weeks the people of Wisconsin have gathered over 500,000 signatures in their quest to recall Scott Walker.Gingrich Campaign Director Michael Krull: “Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot. 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.”There is a small problem with this strategy, though. Write-ins for primary elections are illegal, according to Virginia state code. Thus, it appears that if Gingrich heads to the polls in his home state’s primaries on March 6, he would have to vote for someone else.”

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  • Anonymous

    You ARE NOT Correct. In Virginia is proportional, as are all primaries before APRIL 1. However, if a candidate receives over 50% then its Winner Take All. With this new collusion on the part of the GOP, it is NOW A WINNER TAKE ALL STATE, and Ron Paul is currently polling second. This scam could RP of any reward for finishing second…unless people start paying attention and come out in force for RP.

  • Anonymous

    Virginia’s election rules blow bigtime!