The Other McCain

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Rick Perry Is Suing Virginia Over Primary Ballot Exclusion? UPDATE: ‘It Appears That Rick Perry Is Right’

Posted on | December 28, 2011 | 30 Comments

by Smitty

Or, “Rich Ferrous Vein Discovered In Irony Mine”. From the WaPoo:

Perry’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, contends that the state Republican chairman and members of the State Board of Elections ­violated Perry’s constitutional rights by enforcing state requirements for the gathering of signatures.
The suit maintains that Perry was unable to submit the required number of signatures because of the board’s “requirement that all petition circulators be an eligible or registered qualified voter in Virginia.”
That requirement substantially limits the number of people who could circulate petitions and thus “imposes a severe burden” on Perry’s freedoms of speech and association, the lawsuit argued. It cites the Constitution’s First and 14th amendments.
The lawsuit also challenges on the same grounds requirements regarding the number of signatures and the qualifications for signers.

I mean, isn’t Rick from “Don’t mess with” Texas? Haven’t the Virginia rules, while arguably onerous, been published a long time? While not a 10th Amendment call, doesn’t this very suit kind of trample the notion of federalism? If the Virginia primary was Newt’s Pearl Harbor, does this suit risk turning it into Perry’s Alamo?

Snark aside, unless he can show that the VA GOP deliberately rigged this primary, on which point I am really skeptical, the whole effort seems misguided. Sure, the GOP may here may be reading the rules closely, and sticking to the un-anointed, establishment candidates, but they’re still the rules.

Reached for comment, Hayao Miyazaki had this to say:

Update: a bit of research, based upon the comments, gives us a Red State post linking Ballot Access News, emphasis mine:

But what has not been reported is that in the only other presidential primaries in which Virginia required 10,000 signatures (2000, 2004, and 2008) the signatures were not checked. Any candidate who submitted at least 10,000 raw signatures, on notarized sheets, and which had at least 400 signatures from each U.S. House district, was put on the ballot. In 2000, five Republicans qualified: George Bush, John McCain, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, and Steve Forbes. In 2004 there was no Republican primary in Virginia. In 2008, six Republicans qualified: John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson (an earlier version of this post erroneously said Alan Keyes qualified in 2008, but he only qualified in 2000).
The only reason the Virginia Republican Party checked the signatures for validity for the current primary is that in October 2011, an independent candidate for the legislature, Michael Osborne, sued the Virginia Republican Party because it did not check petitions for its own members, when they submitted primary petitions. Osborne had no trouble getting the needed 125 valid signatures for his own independent candidacy, but he charged that his Republican opponent’s primary petition had never been checked, and that if it had been, that opponent would not have qualified. The lawsuit, Osborne v Boyles, cl 11-520-00, was filed in Bristol County Circuit Court. It was filed too late to be heard before the election, but is still pending. The effect of the lawsuit was to persuade the Republican Party to start checking petitions. If the Republican Party had not changed that policy, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry would be on the 2012 ballot.

What I glean here is:

  • The rules have NOT BEEN changed.
  • Enforcement has been uneven over time.
  • The Osborne suit, coming in October 2011, is mighty, mighty convenient. Why, a couple months before the 2012 Presidential election due date, did an independent candidate for state legislature, quite unexpectedly become interested in the internals of the GOP nomination process? I’m not saying That He Elevated Fetishing Internal X-rays Which Any Sane Interlocutor Never cares about to an absurd level, but it would lead one to question the timing if, say, some link between Osborne and one of the campaigns were to surface.

I really hate to see this issue hang over the GOP like a cloud of air pollution. Maybe Ron Paul should get together with Mitt and have Romney’s campaign chair, VA Lt Gov Bill Bolling, set about enforcing the ballot rules in keeping with tradition. If either candidate is confident of his victory anyway, why should they seek to squelch competition? Especially at the cost of giving the GOP elephant such a donkey cast.

Update II: the plot thickens. At the Northern Virginia Tea Party FaceBook page,

Surprisingly, Rick Perry’s lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ballot access petition laws seems to be “spot on.” Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich were kept off Virginia’s GOP primary ballot for the March 6 primary. Rick Perry relies upon the US Supreme Court precedent of BUCKLEY V. AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (97-930) 525 U.S. 182 (1999), in which the US Supreme Court agreed with the District Court: “the requirement of registration limits the number of persons available to circulate and sign [initiative] petitions and, accordingly, restricts core political speech.” THEREFORE, THE REQUIREMENT THAT PETITION GATHERERS MUST BE REGISTERED VOTERS IN VIRGINIA CLEARLY VIOLATES A DECISION BY THE US SUPREME COURT IN 1999. Of course, courts can find any number of reasons to take unexpected twists and turns. But it appears that Rick Perry is right.

My recommendation to the GOP is that this matter be concluded soonest, with Newt and Perry on the ballot. Continued wrestling with the pig is just going to get lipstick everywhere.

Update III: Still further details at Tim Boyer. Has the VA GOP conducted a successful auto-beclownment operation? It may very well have.

Update IV: HotAir has some great detail. Morrissey takes the straightforward approach that this is a competence test for the campaigns. I’m 60% in agreement there, and 40% interested in seeing what the legal fallout from Perry’s suit is. I happen to be of the ‘more is better’ school of thought; even if you’re a Romney or Paul supporter, inoculating your candidate from competition is not necessarily a Good Thing. Could I vote for Ron Paul in a primary as a protest against GOP tomfoolery? It sounds mad, but less so over time. . .


30 Responses to “Rick Perry Is Suing Virginia Over Primary Ballot Exclusion? UPDATE: ‘It Appears That Rick Perry Is Right’”

  1. Robert Sykes
    December 28th, 2011 @ 9:39 am

    The mere fact that almost all the Republican candidates were excluded from the Virginia primary proves that their system is fundamentally flawed, if not overtly corrupt, and a law suit is fully justified, non sensical rants above federalism not withstanding.

  2. Finrod Felagund
    December 28th, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    I’m guessing that when it’s all said and done, the Virginia GOP will change its rule back to what it was before this year, and Gingrich and Perry will be on the ballot.

  3. Pathfinder's wife
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    Something tells me that this will backfire on Perry.  This smacks of desperation and won’t win him any points.  If he has the money to file this suit, why didn’t he have the money to hire some Virginians to collect the prerequisite signatures?

    Right now the only thing keeping this fellow’s canidacy alive is the money in his war chest and a large chunk of bloggers in his back pocket.

    Go Rick! (Santorum that is)

  4. richard mcenroe
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:36 am

    Actually from what I gather, the rules were changed only prior to this campaign.  Of course, if Perry had had a machine in place, he would have had someone who knew that on staff…

  5. Dcmick
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:41 am

    “[R]ules published for a longtime?’

    Those “rules” you mentioned were arbitrarily changed, and changed to the disadvantage of ALL candidates who hadn’t qualified for Virginia’s ballot four years ago, and those “rules” were changed not last year, not nine months ago, not even ninety days ago.

    Those “rules” were altered within the last month!

    Requirements were altered DRAMATICALLY, making finding sufficient signatures in Democrat controlled congressional districts a time exhausting expedition.

    IF YOU want to come out of the closet with your support of Romney, feel free.

    But don’t pretend that your version of what went down in the Commonwealth wasn’t a maneuver to empower Romney.

    Who is leading in the polls in Virginia right now?

    Not Romney.

    But somehow or other Romney is likely to emerge with Virginia’s delegates.

    And only in such fashion can Romney hope to prevail.  He can’t persuade voters of the merits of his candidacy, he can only hope to rip and tear everyone else down.

  6. Dcmick
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:44 am


    Those “rules” will be made more reasonable, but not before they accomplish what they were changed for, which was to squelch Gingrich.

    The establishment is playing for keeps.

    They don’t care if Romney wins in November, 2012, they’re just determined that no real conservative gain the nomination.  Even that isn’t the truth.  What they’re damned and determined is that Gingrich be destroyed, and that his political future be dead and buried.

  7. smitty
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:50 am

    Yeah, but it’s the same system that’s been in place for a long time. Now, unexpectedly, it’s bad?

  8. smitty
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    Fairly damning. Any links to justify the accusation, or is that just the gut speaking?

  9. Pathfinder's wife
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:52 am

    I’ve read very conflicting things about VA’s laws and this rule change, but the reality that there are conflicting stories about this (as well as conflicting opinions on whether or not Rick Perry has legal recourse) does not make for a winning situation I should think.

  10. smitty
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:54 am

    Which arbitrary changes? What alterations? This is sudden news about the rules. Why make these kinds of points without links?
    If VA represents a vulgar display of power, that is likely to backfire more against the GOP than the non-establishment candidates.
    However, people have to show up at local GOP meetings and get engaged.
    It’s a “put up or shut up” moment.

  11. Tennwriter
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:56 am

    If Ron Paul wins, does that spell D…O….O…M for Mitt Romney?

  12. EBL
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:57 am

    Rick Perry is also going to sue himself for screwing up his answers in the debates.  His mouth is clearly unfair to him and he is seeking damages in an amount to be proven at trial.  

  13. Zilla of the Resistance
    December 28th, 2011 @ 11:04 am

    So if Rick Perry wins his way onto the ballot by claiming it’s his free speech right, wouldn’t that mean that Rick Santorum, Newt, Bachmann & everyone else who wants to be on the ballot would have that “right” also? Wouldn’t that mean that, Smitty, for example, could get on the ballot if he wanted to because denying him would be a ‘violation’ of his ‘rights’? 

  14. Physics Geek
    December 28th, 2011 @ 11:09 am

    As a VA resident, I have to say that Gideon’s comment here is a pretty good timeline of what happened.

  15. smitty
    December 28th, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    It means that the campaign with the deeper pockets is picking up the legal tab.
    I’m sure that if Perry is on, so is Newt.

  16. smitty
    December 28th, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    I’m a VA resident, too, but was there supposed to be a URL?

  17. ThePaganTemple
    December 28th, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

    No because neither Santorum, Bachmann, nor Huntsman even made the attempt to get on the ballot in  the first place.

  18. Physics Geek
    December 28th, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

    Click on “Gideon’s comment”. There is a link there, which shows up when you mouse over the words.

  19. Physics Geek
    December 28th, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    Or not. It was there when I submitted it and it highlights when I mouse over, but it is not clickable. Ah well, it’s the HotAir post and Gideon’s comment is on page 2.

  20. Adjoran
    December 28th, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

    For (I hope) the last time:  there were no changes beyond those announced before the signing period.  Contemporaneous records show this – RedState’s Erickson was whining about signature verification being onerous in 2007.  Interesting, since his blogger Moe Lane is the one stirring the pot with misinformation now.

    Ed Morrissey has a post up at Hot Air with the full story now.  Or people could have listened to those who knew.  Some chose to go with the ignorant and wail and moan.  I’ve lost most respect for Moe Lane, who has not only driven the story falsely, but mocked those who tried to correct his errors.

  21. Adjoran
    December 28th, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

    Incidentally, Perry’s petitions were NOT rejected due to out-of-state gatherers.  That never came up.  He didn’t submit enough.  If you don’t have enough valid signatures, the issue of who got them is moot.

  22. Edward
    December 28th, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

    How about changing the requirements for ballot access in November of 2011 as sufficient evidence?

    Keeping in mind that you need 15,000+ signatures overall with at least 400 per district and all of these taken down by a registered Virginia voter so you can’t even transport in volunteers or paid campaign workers. And all just before the the Holidays when everyone is trying to get their holiday prep done.

    And might I suggest: since the requirement in the previous years were only 10,000 how fundamentally useful it must be to the Romney campaign to have 16,000 signatures and thus qualify for not having any of those inspected or verified.

    I guess having the Lt. Gov of Virginia on the campaign must be pretty damn useful after all eh?

  23. smitty
    December 28th, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

    I blame his foot.

  24. Edward
    December 28th, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

    *shrug* the simplest thing of all is to just ignore Virginia’s primary.  If nobody gives a damn who wins in Virginia then it doesn’t matter.

  25. Dcmick
    December 28th, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

    I don’t provide links.

    I don’t string cite sentences.

    Here’s the deal, you can always tell whether a Supreme Court Justice actually wrote the opinion or whether one of his clerks did.  And you can make that determination by simply noting the number of string citations.  Clerks, right out of school practically, are still in the habit of supporting their analysis with reference to the law, even if that law had been previously mentioned in the ruling or was fairly obvious.  Actual Justices however, confident in themselves and their power, write without as much endless referencing.

    So I don’t link, because that’s too much work, and I usually make reference to something that’s fairly been remarked upon.

    Limbaugh has often mentioned that the GOP establishment has already given up on the 2012 race, and is just trying to gain the Senate so as the old timers in the Senate can gain back their chairmanships.   Limbaugh usually mentions in support endless conversations with those inside the establishment who said just that.

    As for my political gut, ——– my gut instinct on this type of stuff almost never fails.

  26. Dcmick
    December 28th, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    Check out Professor Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection.

    You are behind the curve on the issue.

    These rule changes weren’t in the making for months.  In the midst of an ongoing Presidential primary, Virginia changed their requirements.

    Before, simply having 10,000 signatures guaranteed you were on, and those signatures wouldn’t be checked.  But that was just one aspect that was altered.

    Come on, I’m here to provide commentary, not provide original source material.

    Why do you think Perry is initiating legal action for, if the rules had been those of longstanding?

  27. Andreas Moser
    December 28th, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

    I thought Republicans were AGAINST frivolous lawsuits.

  28. ThePaganTemple
    December 28th, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

    The operative word being “frivolous”.

  29. Daveperk
    December 28th, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

    The rules were changed in November and now 15,000, not 10,000, signatures (still not gonna be checked) are required. VA GOP changed the rules in the 4th quarter of he game, is what I have read. Didn’t keep the link though. If its true, then why 15k if not an artificial bar to favor Romney? GOP stinks in this. Virgina is for lovers f the status quo.

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