The significance of the Gingrich and Perry failures

Organization and resources.  Those are the two things it takes to win a Presidential primary.  The ingredients are as old as the Republic and they haven’t changed.  One simply needs to read The Making of the President: 1960 and its many progeny to see that.  Campaigns that are weak on organization also tend to be weak on resources and you can get away with having only one of the two, but not both.

Virginia has done the rest of America a great service, as my colleague Norm Leahy indicated earlier today – Virginia just held the first real primary of the 2012 presidential season, and now we know which candidates are legitimate and which ones are going through the motions.  And, from the result, it appears likely that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee in 2012.

So far this Christmas, the bulk of the conversation in my house has been about the Republican presidential nomination.  And I’m proud of the role Virginia has played in clearing up who are the legitimate candidates and who are not.

It is very surprising to most non-Virginians that both Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich failed to qualify for our primary ballot.  In the modern era, it is rare for candidates who have been touted as front runners to fall down so loudly and publicly before even the first primary ballot or caucus vote has been cast.  But it happened, and it happened to two candidates who the mainstream media, at one point or another, had anointed as “front-runners.”

So what is the actual significance of Gingrich and Perry’s failure (along with Huntsman, Bachmann and Santorum) to make it onto the Virginia ballot?

We now know that Emperors Perry and Gingrich have no clothes.  They may have burst onto the scene or risen from the ranks to leads in national polls, but the reality is neither of them were legitimate candidates who were running a serious primary effort.  Perry at least has the excuse of getting into the race late, in mid-August, over a month after campaigns could begin soliciting signatures for petitions in Virginia.  Gingrich has no excuse at all, as he got into the race in May and he is a Virginia resident, having lived in McLean for over ten years.  He has seen how difficult it is to get on the ballot in Virginia and he should have known better.

We also know that Gingrich doesn’t know anything about Virginia despite living here, because his campaign team has vowed to run a write-in campaign for the nomination here in Virginia – despite the fact that the Virginia Code bars write-in candidates in primary campaigns (VA Code 24.2-644(c).)  This is the same as primary votes for state elections, where the VA Code explicitly bars write-ins. VA Code 24.2-529.  Good call there, Newt.

And as much as these folks want to complain, plenty of other candidates with fewer resources have made it onto the Virginia presidential primary ballot since the rules were loosened in 1999. Here’s a quick list:

2008 – Barack Obama, Dennis Kucinich, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, John Edwards; Ron Paul, John McCain, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney.

2004 – Al Sharpton, John Kerry, Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Dick Gephardt, Lyndon Larouche.

2000 – Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, George W. Bush, John McCain, Steve Forbes.

So, apparently, Lyndon Larouche, Al Sharpton, Alan Keyes, Fred Thompson and Dennis Kucinich ran better organized campaigns for their party nominations than Gingrich and Perry.  Wow.

Iowa and New Hampshire, in my opinion, are less valuable now as predictors of future candidate success thanks to Virginia’s ballot rules.  We’ve demonstrated that only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have the organization or the resources (Romney has both, Paul has a die-hard organization) to win the nomination outright.

At this point, if the mainstream media wants to be accurate, they should only include Romney and Paul as legitimate candidates for the front-runner title.  And given Paul’s inability to poll over 20% in most the country, it seems clear that Romney will be the eventual nominee, barring some kind of miracle for anyone else.

Virginia just helped clear up the fog surrounding the Republican nomination and demonstrated just who are the real viable candidates.

Merry Christmas, America.


  • Fred Taylor

    Hey Brian–I have a question about your assertion that Newr can’t run a write-in campaign. I read the law as shown and it does not expressly prohibit a voter from casting a ballot for a write-in candidate during a primary. Further, it has an extensive section talking about voter intent.

    I gather you have some case law to back this up (let’s see it), because of I wanted to write-in Newt, Bob McDonnell, or Sarah Palin, this section of the code seems to protect my ability to do so.

    But beyond that, why are you so eager to limit the voter’s ability to pick who he wants? Just because Alan Keyes can get 10,000 signatures–or you nearly 200–it doesn’t make a viable candidate. Just reading a few posts on this site make me feel like I’m reading something out of the Democrat Party. They want to limit who I can vote for and what I can do–why so much of that here? That’s not Conservatism

  • John Millhiser

    Anytime there are pre-filing requirements to stand for nomination, those must be met to be on the ballot. We are talking about running to become a candidate for the general not the actual general election but to be the party’s nominee. In any state run primary neither the paper ballot for the scanning voting machine or the touch screen ballot won’t even have a place to do a write in.

  • Matt

    Fred: The Commonwealth is not limiting who you may vote for the candidates that were not able to get enough valid signatures are the ones who are limiting who you may vote for.

  • It’s pretty clear Fred: Code of Virginia 24.2-644 C. “At all elections EXCEPT primary elections it shall be lawful for any voter to vote for any person other than the listed candidates for the office by writing or hand printing the person’s name on the official ballot.”

    I have no clue why Newt just didn’t get it done. It’s disappointing but what’s worse now is his campaign now whining about the rules. He has no excuse.

  • Norm Leahy

    You really need to read more closely, Fred:

    “At all elections except primary elections it shall be lawful for any voter to vote for any person other than the listed candidates for the office by writing or hand printing the person’s name on the official ballot.”

    The candidates had a choice as to whether they wished to be on Virginia’s ballot. Some chose to do nothing (Bachmann, Huntsman, Santorum). Others chose to give it a run, and hope for the best (Gingrich, Perry). Two put in the work and guaranteed success (Romney and Paul).

    As Brian notes, other campaigns in years past met the requirements. That Alan Keyes’ campaign, weak as it was, scaled the ballot access wall. That tells me his was a more viable effort than just about all the current vote chasers combined.

  • Thomas Conway

    I guess you haven’t been paying attention to the news lately – Paul is winning in Iowa and running right behind romney in NH and making greater gains – he is also top tier in the other early states – and that is with little to no media attention and what attention he’s been given, its been much the same as your attitude “he can’t win” – if anything, you ought to give kudos to his campaign, especially in VA – getting the required signatures was no easy task, which proves he’s got an excited base in EVERY state, VA included. Your biased commentary is really a sad commentary on your lack of critical reasoning and acceptance of particular facts that contradict your desired conclusion – that Romney will be the nominee.
    As you probably realize but decided not to consider and put forward, here in VA, democrats and independents can vote in the GOP primary and there are a LOT of excited independents just waiting to vote for Paul – given the two man race, Paul vs. Romney, i would predict a strong Paul win; as a realist, at the very least, i would assume the race is up in the air – but you’d rather dismiss Paul entirely – well, the GOP has taken that stance in Iowa… how is that working out? I hope you people wake up soon, before a Paul win actually kills you from shock.

  • Jim Hewitt

    Well put, Brian! I liken it to the person who complains about who was elected and after talking with that person you find out they did not even vote. If you cannot find the time to participate in the process then do not be surprised with the results. Those who fail to organize will organize a failure.
    Merry Christmas to you and the whole family!

  • I give plenty of kudos to Ron Paul’s campaign. As I noted, he’s got a solid organization of diehards and he did a great job getting on the ballot here in Virginia. I signed petitions for Romney, Paul, Perry and Herman Cain.

    Be that as it may, the vast majority of the electorate, including the majority of the Republican electorate, doesn’t view Ron Paul as a legitimate candidate. He’s got his niche, but he doesn’t have a realistic change of winning the nomination or being elected President.

    I expect Paul will likely win in Iowa, which will confirm in the eyes of many that the Iowa caucuses have jumped the shark. After Mike Huckabee’s win in 2008, if Paul wins it makes it clear that Iowa is no longer the bellwether it used to be.

    It’s my understanding of the process and how things have played out the last three times Paul has run, coupled with his recent gaffes on Israel and his strident isolationism that lead me to the conclusion that he is not going to win the nomination or the presidency. That’s not bias. It’s just common sense.

    The Ron Paul folks were saying the same thing in 2008 and it didn’t pan out then, either. Don’t get your hopes up.

  • Silence Dogood IX

    @Fred Taylor

    “But beyond that, why are you so eager to limit the voter’s ability to pick who he wants? Just because Alan Keyes can get 10,000 signatures–or you nearly 200–it doesn’t make a viable candidate.”

    Well if we did it your way, we could have thousands of people on the ballot! I’m not saying the system isn’t flawed… I think it is more flawed than it is good, but as to getting your name on the ballot, I can’t see anything wrong with having a requirement that there be some minimum amount of support for someone otherwise, like I said, the ballots would/could have thousands of names!

  • Whit

    Is there any truth to the assertion that the SBE has vastly increased its ability to use databases to cull ineligible signers since the last cycle? If so, that would make comparisons to past candidates irrelevant as their margins of error were much higher. If that is the case, then can anyone claim to be shocked that only the two candidates who have been running for half a decade were able to overcome a higher culling %?

    The fact that Virginia has built a bias in against later forming campaigns is a concern. Of course these campaigns could still have overcome it, but it would be senseless not to acknowledge that some campaigns have limited resources early on. Some campaigns clearly made the decision to focus limited resources elsewhere so its unfortunate and perhaps the Legislature can revisit this issue to give Virginia more influence in national politics moving foward.

  • There’s no bias against later forming campaigns. That much is clear, given the fact that Newt Gingrich was the second candidate to announce and he didn’t make the ballot. All of the other candidates who failed to make the ballot, with the exception of Perry, all got in the race before the petition process began in July.

    It’s all the more unforgivable for these candidates considering that we had late primary elections (late enough for even Perry to get signatures on August 23) and a general election in November of this year, where candidates had the opportunity to get signatures at the polls as voters were entering and exiting. I know that Ron Paul’s campaign availed itself of that opportunity, as I worked the polls on election day with two separate Paul canvassers who collected signatures on election day.

    We had canvassers for Paul, Romney and Herman Cain showing up to Fairfax County Republican Committee meetings throughout the summer.

    And while some campaigns have limited resources early on, Perry’s campaign was not one of these. He beat all of the other candidates in fundraising in the third quarter, raking in over $17 million by October, which should have given him ample resources to get petitions signed and verified by Thursday’s deadline.

    All of these campaigns should have some kind of a database that includes the registered voter lists for Virginia and could have easily been verifying these signatures themselves before they turned them in.

    That’s the point about organization and resources. If you have the resources you can buy the organization. Perry had plenty of time to do that. Gingrich didn’t have the resources or the organization and that was all his own fault.

  • Fred Taylor

    The language in the law does not at all forbid write-ins for a primary. If you read enough law, you’ll see that it tends to not only express what is lawful, but also explain what is not. It may have been the Legislature’s intent to bar write-in candidacies in primaries, but they failed to do this by now saying that it is unlawful for a voter to cast a write-in ballot.

    You might labor under an illusion otherwise, but that won’t make it true. Also. I see that Brian can’t cite case law to refute my assertion, so it’s highly likely there isn’t any.

  • Fat Dave

    “At all elections EXCEPT PRIMARY ELECTIONS it shall be lawful for any voter to vote for any person other than the listed candidates for the office by writing or hand printing the person’s name on the official ballot.”


    What does that mean then? Honestly, I don’t know, if it doesn’t bar write-ins from counting in a primary.

  • There is a second code section that makes it clear that write-ins are not permitted on primary ballots.

    Va Code Sec 24.2-529:(link

    “The primary ballots for the several parties taking part in a primary shall be composed, arranged, printed, delivered, and provided in the same manner as the general election ballots except that at the top of each official primary ballot shall be printed in plain black type the name of the political party and the words “Primary Election.” The names of the candidates for various offices shall appear on the ballot in an order determined by the priority of the time of filing for the office. In the event two or more candidates file simultaneously, the order of filing shall then be determined by lot by the electoral board or the State Board as in the case of a tie vote for the office. No write-in shall be permitted on ballots in primary elections.”

    Pay attention to that last sentence.

  • MD Russ

    Tom Conway,

    Ron Paul has a built-in, enthusiastic volunteer base in every state–college students. Generally speaking, many college students are not only naive and idealistic to the point of being stupid, but they also love Ron Paul’s positions on no reinstatement of the military draft (a position, BTW, that I strongly support for different reasons) and on legalization of marijuana and lowering penalties for other recreational drugs. The problem is that, while this supporter base can get him on the ballot, these students don’t represent a majority of college students, much less the general population. As for Independent support of Ron Paul, if you look at the demographics of the Quinnipiac Poll that was conducted Dec 21, there are two interesting statistics. First, Ron Paul has been consistently trending flat, gaining only 8-9% of Republicans and Republican leaning Independents since September. Second, his greatest support at 15% is in the youngest age group, proving my point about college students. Sorry, but Brian is absolutely correct: Ron Paul has no chance whatsoever of being elected President.

  • Thanks for the back up, Doug. I don’t know what else to tell you, Fred – there’s two lawyers here saying no write-ins. We don’t need case law as the Code is clear. Besides, I’m not wasting money on LexisNexis looking up something that’s clear.

  • MD Russ

    For those of you who are frustrated with the high bar for ballot access in Virginia and lashing out at the Constitutionality of the process, please bear in mind that a primary is not an election for public office or even a nominating procedure. It serves only to select delegates to a political party convention that will make the nomination. And remember that those delegates are only committed to vote for their candidate on the first ballot at the convention.

    In an election for public office, you are free to vote for anyone, write-ins accepted. And that difference is what makes the primary pass Constitutional muster.

  • Let’s Be Free

    The little prince declares that there is only one viable candidate before a single vote has been cast in even a single primary. That’s disgusting. As I view the arrogance swirling among the RPV insiders, one thing is for sure, their favorite candidate will not be getting my vote for President next November. Third party or write in here I come. I hope you all enjoy Barack Obama’s second term — won’t be much different anyhow from an administration backed by GW Bush apologists.

  • “No write-in shall be permitted on ballots in primary elections.”

    Yes it does say that. This means no space for a write-in can be printed on the ballot. I don’t think it means I can’t write in a name anyway. What are they going to do? Throw me in jail? I guess not, since as far as I understand the “rules” it is still a secret ballot. Or is there some other hackneyed rule out there I have heard about yet?

  • Maybe the candidates whose name won’t be printed on the ballot should organize little stickers for their supporters to affix to the “official” ballot. Just an idea.

  • Fat Dave


    Write what you like, but it won’t count, except as catharsis.

  • MD Russ

    Craig Kilby,

    Now that is just plain silly. Is English your native language? Anyone who follows your suggestions will simply be creating in invalid ballot that will be discarded, just like those two thousand invalid petition signatures for Newt. Holding your breath until you turn blue in the face would be far more productive.

  • LBF – sorry whoever you like didn’t bother understanding the rules and doing what it takes to win. I’m sorry you’re bent out of shape by what happened, but it still did. I can’t believe there are so many folks who would rather see Barack Obama reelected rather than vote for a Republican who wasn’t their first choice. That’s sad and it’s counterproductive.

    Craig, you can do what you like with your ballot but it will be disqualified.

  • Let’s Be Free

    This is about the voters, not some silly rules. And as for the rules, here I thought the Republicans had control of the statehouse, have a supermajority in the assembly and, if Mr. I-hate-political-competition and support-Mitt-Romney Bill Bolling is so inclined, has effective control of the Senate.

    Virginia Republicans, if they care about voters, have the authority to make last-minute revisions after January 1st (don’t tell me in the internet era that there isn’t enough time) to ensure that the citizens of the Commonwealth can choose from among a deep field and of substantial and well qualified candidates, instead of being forced by poitical machine operatives to go with the insider or the outlier. Doing the right thing means ensuring the process allows real voter choice.

    We aren’t rebelling about not getting our first choice; we are rebelling about a process that’s ensuring we have no choice. If you can’t understand why people recoil from a process that eliminates choice, I mean, then really, go hide under a rock.

    Craig’s ballot does not have to be disqualified. It will only be disqualified because you want it to be.

  • Darrell

    “It serves only to select delegates to a political party convention that will make the nomination. ”

    Really? What convention might that be?

  • Mike


    The rules are the same for everyone. Would you be in favor of bending the rules right now if we were talking about a Republican candidate that you strongly disliked? No. You would not.

    The truly silly thing here is not the rules, but your statement about a political machine forcing you to do anything. Voting in the primary is optional, therefore you are not forced to do anything. The rules have been in place for a long time, are known to all candidates, and are applied the same to all. Running for political office is a serious activity. This is not your afternoon golf game. There are no mulligans.

    Something is very wrong here. Perhaps there is a connection to our elected officials who feel free to violate the law whenever they find it convenient, to those who feel we should break the rules whenever they feel they need to right a wrong.

  • LBF, you’re acting like these rules haven’t been in existence for over a decade. This is the first time since the rules changed in 1999 that there were so few candidates on the Virginia primary ballot, and that isn’t because the rules somehow got tougher. They’re the same rules. Perhaps verification is tougher than it has been in the past but that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

    LG Bolling had nothing to do with this process. This was all done per RPV and their rules. And Pat Mullins and his crew haven’t picked any sides and they wouldn’t.

    Gingrich, Perry and the other candidates have no one to blame but themselves. They new the rules, they made an effort to comply, and they failed. That’s on them, not on RPV, not on Virginia’s voters, and not on me.

    Changing the rules at this point is unfair to Romney and Paul. They both worked hard, were organized and did what they needed to do to qualify. This isn’t about denying Virginia voters a choice – the candidates themselves did that by not doing their jobs.

    Darrell, the primary winners receive pledged delegates to the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, where the nominee is actually chosen. The pledged delegates are obligated to vote for the candidate who wins their state primary (or who they are allocated to if the state doesn’t have a winner take all system) on the first ballot. After that, they can go with whomever they choose. It’s exceedingly rare to go past the first ballot in the modern era (post 1948).

  • I have never missed an election since I was old enough to vote. I know my ballot will be disqualified but I’m going to vote anyway. I’m just saying, it would make for some interesting chatter if say, oh 25,000 ballots had to be disqualified. Not sure even then anybody in the GA or RPV would get the point.

  • Fred Taylor

    Craig is correct. While the second statute does not permit a write-in, the first requires the intent of the voter be determined and followed. So, the State can sanction you for violating the law in a manner consisted with the associated penalties, but it also can’t ignore your intent–which is to vote for a candidate not on the ballot. It therefore, must also count those and if those votes are higher than the others, that candidate wins the election.

    Notice, no language says the ballots won’t be counted, nor does it state that the write-in is disqualified. Again, we know the INTENT of the legislature, but I’d they don’t write it down, it doesn’t count!

  • @Fred. My reading is that a blank for write-ins cannot be printed on the state-funded ballot in Political Party primary. That alone is outrageous. But I don’t read it to say I can’t write a name in anyway. Yes, it’s disqualified. Might make a good test case. If the reasoning is that is a party primary, and they can make any rules they want, I agree–but why should taxpayers have to foot the bill and then be told I can’t vote in it? Who is the state legislature and/or RVP or DPR to say we aren’t holding a primary until March 6th, but your deadline is December 23rd, when the first caucus and primaries haven’t even been hold? It’s just nonsensical to me.

  • And if one of the reasons to qualify for the ballot is prove support, why not use polls instead of this archaic and rigged system? Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m plenty disappointed in the Gingrich campaign and indeed they do have egg on their face today.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Congratulations, Virginia. The high bar for ballot access has relegated us to a non-story on Super Tuesday.

  • Josh

    Boo hoo cry babies. The candidates who didn’t make it are disorganized and ill-equipped to be president. They are the jokes for not doing the work. To the cry babies crying foul, too bad. There is no write-in. Please learn the rules and live by them. Should we bend the rules at every whim? The non-story are the losers who didn’t make it on the ballot. Forty-six delegates could be the difference between winning and losing. That is the story. If the candidates can’t get 10,000 signatures by registered Virginia voters, it doesn’t speak well of their support.

  • Yeah, Josh, that right. Perry & Gingrich lost 2,000 signatures so they only got around 9,000 valid signatures. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

  • Josh

    Romney turned in over 16,000 and Paul nearly 15,000. I thought Gingrich and Perry were popular?

  • Unfortunately, we’ll never know how many of the Romney and Paul signatures were invalid.

  • Darrell

    Yeah, let’s have a general election in March, but only let a few party hacks screen the papers. That’s what happened in the Stolle election a few years ago when a bunch of signatures for an opponent were disqualified because a check wasn’t placed in a box on the form, giving Stolle a free shot.

    One of two things have to happen. Either the party starts paying for their own primary, or we treat the primary like the general election it already is.

  • Lovettsville Lady

    >>>And I’m proud of the role Virginia has played in clearing up who are the legitimate candidates and who are not.<<<

    Are you saying that only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are legitimate candidates? Really??

  • Lottsville Lady…I think the poster was being a little more than sarcastic, but in essence that is exactly Virginia and RVP who enacted this stupid law are definitely saying. But the die is cast and Virginia–the Mother of Presidents–isn’t even a step-aunt this time. What a sham I mean shame

  • There is nothing outrageous about requirements to be placed on a primary ballot. This isn’t the general election. In the general, you can vote for whomever you wish. In a primary, the state makes the rules for qualifying, but the party makes the determination as to who qualified. There were no “party hacks” making this decision – RPV sent out a request for folks to assist with the verification of ballots weeks ago and anybody who cared and wanted to volunteer was free to. I know plenty of folks who went down there to help.

    The primary isn’t the general election, especially in the Presidential race. Whoever wins the nomination still has to beat the President and that’s going to be an uphill battle.

    As for the requirements, come on. There are over 5 million registered voters in Virginia who could have signed those petitions. The threshold to get on the ballot is .2% of the registered voters in the Commonwealth. If you’re running for President and you can’t get even organize to get that much support, you really ought to question whether you should be running for President at all.

    LL – yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

    Kirwin – We’d be one of 10 states on Super Tuesday. Right now, we’re the only one making news. We’re way more consequential right now than we’d be with four folks on the ballot in March. Frankly, we should probably have a good idea who the nominee is going to be by the end of February.

  • Josh

    Craig, you are missing the point with Romney’s #s and Paul’s #s. They had enough of a cushion to absorb any losses/errors to make it to at least 10,000.

  • I am more than a little upset that Gingrich doesn’t understand the rules, or worse doesn’t feel he has to listen to them.

    Changing the rules because you don’t like the outcome is a liberal tactic that I both despise and mock, it is no prettier when it does by the right.

    He should have known the rules. Like it or not this is an indication of what type of campaign they are running.

    I am none to happy that my choices are Romney or Paul. Neither of which I want to see as president. But those are the choices I have.

    Rules are rules and they need to be followed.

  • NotCatherineCrabill

    Wow… “Mr. Newt” is so arrogant as to compare his pathetic political organization in Virginia to the deaths of 2400 servicemen at Pearl Harbor. Thank God he didn’t make the ballot!

  • Lovettsville Lady

    Were the signatures for Romney and Paul not examined because they had so many? Could that possibly be true?

  • No, it is not true. All the signatures for each candidate were verified in the same manner.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Brian, if this thing is over before Super Tuesday, it’ll be the first one in a while that was. Super Tuesday is a month later than it was 4 years ago.

    If it is still competitive, no one’s going to care about our state at all.

    Let’s remember it was the DEMOCRATS who decided this 10,000 signature petition rule to keep non-favored candidates off the ballot.

  • @Kirwin, why would no one care about VA if the primary is still competitive on Super Tuesday? if anything, it will be the one state where the non-Romney supporters can band together and keep those delegates away from him. unless of course it is Ron Paul they are trying to prevent getting the nomination 😉

  • DisenfranchisedinLynchburg

    Count me on Let’s Be Free’s side. The Virginia Republican died yesterday in my book. No, we will still have to suffer it as a political entity, but its vitality, legitimacy and viability with voters is no longer.

    I am bitterly disappointed in the leadership of this state party and its self-serving disgraceful behavior in manipulating our primary ballot. At least that is what it seems is going on. As a Republican in this state, my opinion and primary vote is now meaningless. You have stolen it and the vote of all other Virginia primary voters.

    Virginia’s excessively restrictive laws to make the ballot must be changed. I’d like to ask attorney Brian how this helps attract anyone to the Republican Party of Virginia? These rules are aimed at allowing the establishment to continue to control the process and protect themselves. Typical law writing by self-serving lawyers. Let’s keep competition and others out by any means. Instead of standing by legalisms, the party must find a way to allow all viable candidates on the ballot, not just well financed and insider supported establishment types.

    Party leaders should have worked to ensure all legitimate and viable candidates achieve ballot status. Instead, you let Bolling work to take care of Romney and left the others to fend for themselves. Well, this Republican is boiling mad. I would also observe that you have unintentionally hurt Romney’s chances. A fairly contested primary win allows a legitimate claim for unification and support in the general election. Not this time.

    I have been a Republican all my life and swallowed many times voting for party establishment candidates (despite their abandonment of conservatism). No more! Your closed system has sent the message that my opinion and vote doesn’t count in the primary. I will re-register as an independent and vote for Ron Paul in protest. Perhaps, if Paul can somehow deny Romney the primary victory, you will realize how self-defeating this process is. Also, the irony of Romney losing via conservative abandonment, the same way his father abandoned Goldwater, would be sweet. Remember Romney only got 18,000 votes in the last primary (mine included).

    One last thought on this stupid primary process…… democrats and independents can vote in our primary, but I’m not allowed to vote for the candidate of my choice because he’s not the establishment choice.

  • Reading this by the fireside, burning freshly unwrapped paper from gifts to my loved ones.. listening to Christmas, Mannheim Steamroller..

    Ahh the founders are looking down upon us all… smiling no doubt. Before us lay the ruins of a once and future country they bequeathed to us. Lets not decend into chaos while enjoying this day. There is a big battle in the days and year ahead and we all need to hit the trail refreshed after today. History is not repeating itself this time, we are in new territory. Lets make our founders proud.

  • @DisenfranchisedinLynchburg, while I’m all for you voting for Ron Paul, I honestly don’t think the current ballet fiasco hurts VA’s reputation, in fact it let’s future candidates know they MUST have a ground game here to avoid being embarrassed and in turn listening to VA constituents more.

  • Let’s Be Free

    All these comments that other candidates, in other races, in other years, were able to obtain the requisite signatures are rendered meaningless by the Arlington COG petition debacle, which made it clear that the pay for signature mills are fraudulent. This year, the signature for hire crowd has pulled back operations considerably in light of the multiple felony charges lodged against participants in the COG fraud. Clearly, the COG case is not the first case where there was rampant fraud — just the first case where it was uncovered. Many, perhaps most, of those prior ballot qualifiers were likely put up for election by fraudulent signatures that escaped notice.

  • NotCatherineCrabill

    Re: Let’s Be Free

    Gotta love folks who make wild, baseless accusations of fraud against over a dozen prior Presidential campaigns (since 2000) that have made the ballot because your favored candidate lacked the grassroots organization and hard work necessary to do what two other candidates did.

  • “The rules are the same for everyone. Would you be in favor of bending the rules right now if we were talking about a Republican candidate that you strongly disliked? No. You would not.”

    Oh please, stop projecting your win without competition or voter input philosophy on someone else. It’s exactly that philosphy that is so off putting. Think it through Mike — I said additional “candidates” should be on the ballot not merely a “candidate.”

    I, for one, think Rick Perry would be a lousy president and don’t like him to boot. Yet, by all means he is a subtantial and well-qualified candidate who unquestionably should be on the ballot. Heck, I was not sure whom I was going to vote for so, on multiple levels, it is profoundly unfounded to interpret my argument.

    If the internal, party insider focus isn’t changed it is not only going to cost the GOP a shot at the presidency, it’s also going to stand in the way of controlling the Senate. Indeed, seeing how the RPV is handling this issue, I’m putting George Allen in the likely loser column for 2012. You people have no idea how poorly this issue is playing outside of the bubble.

  • Sometimes despite the best laid plans or a lack of them, things don’t work out as hoped.. Newt and Perry failed.. Things fail yet that creates new opportunities cept this time it ends them.. like this

  • Darrell

    “let’s future candidates know they MUST have a ground game here to avoid being embarrassed and in turn listening to VA constituents more.”

    You know who is embarrassed? The Republican Party that’s who. Newt’s failure is being published in articles all over the world including Abdul’s Al-Qaida almanac highlighting that this is how America’s faux freedom works. Google has over 150,000 sites publicizing a story of a state full of morons that trumps any positive thing the Governor has done in his tenure.

    Now you all can blame the Dems for these stupid laws if you want but the fact remains, there is a difference between running for the state dog catcher and the White House. Isn’t it time that Virginia’s laws reflect that reality instead of good ole boy politics?

  • <> — Brian Kirwin

    That’s rich. I don’t recall the evenly divided house of Delegates or Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore doing anything to stop this awful self-serving legislation in 1999. It certainly wasn’t vetoed. Support this stupid law all you want, but don’t blame the democrats for the entire debacle. Though I must say they must be thrilled with out it has played out (though some on their side see some bad ju-ju in all this and think it had better be changed and pronto)

  • Let’s Be Free

    “Gotta love folks who make wild, baseless accusations of fraud against over dozen prior Presidential campaigns”

    Check out the professionals connected with the COG fraud and those involved in earlier campaigns and it will be clear there is nothing wild or baseless about my statement. While there are always loyal and principled volunteers who are above board, this is a process dominated by the consultant and pay for signature crowd that stunk to high heaven before the miscreants were smoked out by the felony charges in the aftermath of the Arlington, COG fiasco.

  • Josh

    Having worked on the Romney petition gathering, we got each and every signature for free! Yes, volunteering! No, not Americorps where you are paid to “volunteer.” I wonder if the people on this list got out in the cold to walk a parade or stand at a VRE station like I did to get valid Virginia voters to sign. Doubt it. I saw Paul supporters out and one guy for Johnson.

    As for “DisenfranchisedinLynchburg,” if you have been a registered VA voter for a long time and still don’t know the rules, good riddance. We need less of the uneducated in the VA GOP. Maybe you can check up on the rules for voting in primaries in VA.

  • Mickey

    PS – Virginia’s ballot laws apply to BOTH parties. These aren’t the RPVs rules, folks, it’s Virginia. So quit blaming the Virginia GOP. You sound like Dems, blaming someone else for an individual’s failures…

  • Samuel Gilleran

    The obvious rejoinder to all of this … complaining … is that if you wanted to be able to vote for a particular person in the primary, you should have taken it upon yourself to gather signatures for that person. The rules and forms are well-publicized and openly available. Supporters of candidates who didn’t make the ballot, frankly, have no one to blame but themselves.

    I do agree with Rick’s suggestion in another post of changing the rules for qualification, but to change the rules in the middle of the game – or in this case, after the game is over – simply to achieve a result reeks of the sort of liberal judicial activism that we despise. It is state law, and if you don’t like it, then get it changed. I am sure that there will be a groundswell toward that end during this GA session.

  • Ditto Samuel. Not a good idea to switch horses midstream. If there is a move afoot to review the rules then they won’t apply until later elections. This is a state law, two candidates complied with our law for 2012. Newt deserves scorn for lashing at us, not the other way around.

  • Sandy

    Craig Kilby- As to the Democrat passed rules in 1999, the DNC, since the 2004 elections have granted the DPVA waivers so that Democrat candidates need on to gather 5,000 signatures. It seems pretty obvious to me that the RNC, or the VA GOP could have taken that same pathway to qualifying more GOP candidates for the 2012 race, and even before this year. So I’ve been reading everywhere but here of course, that the Democrats wanted to narrow the field, and to get rid of the so-called riff raff candidates, but the VA GOP makes it even harder to get our candidates on the ballot.

    I’ve said before, those writing here that seem to be the party insiders, or those that know the party insiders, seem to be gloating over the fact that there are only two candidates on the VA ballot. I guess it’s necessary to slam two candidates as being nothing more than idiot nincompoops is the flavor of the day for the VA insiders.

    I promise you if you people read more than just this site, there is so much animosity right now, not only for the VA GOP, but the entire Republican party is once again being tagged the “stupid party” and “the party that always knows how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

    Romney has not gotten over 25% in most national polling, even after running for the presidency now for about 6 years, and Ron Paul has very very little chance of winning the nomination, yet Gingrich, the front runner in VA is tossed. I’m not a Gingrich supporter, but me thinks that the man with the mouth, and all the ideas will do more to expose the crookedness of VA politics than they ever thought would be coming.

    Bolling agreeing to be Romney’s VA campaign chair carries more than a little stink. Everyone knows that the VA GOP has worked with the 3 in the top positions, in order to help them win their elections in 2009. They are tied at the hip. Now one of the top guys not only endorses Romney, but is actively working to get him elected in 2012. Huh, if you don’t think that is going to hurt the VA GOP, you got some thinking to do.

  • DisenfranchisedinLynchburg


    “We need less of the uneducated in the VA GOP.” What an unbelievably arrogant and stupid statement. Let’s just keep the party nice and small and only open to us smart insiders who know all the rules. Permanent minority party status formula. Guess what Josh, I’m a recent transplant from NC where the state Republican party has been just as stupid and ineffective through the years as you smart Va GOP insiders are.

    We didn’t have to pay attention to the ballot signature issues because it wasn’t a problem getting broadly supported candidates on the ballot. Remember, it was Jesse Helms of NC that was instrumental in Reagan’s eventual defeat of the Republican establishment in capturing the party’s nomination in 1980. Virginia Republicans, they just kept to their insider dominated state convention.

    You still think it helps the party to severely restrict primary participation, go for it, but I for one would want everyone I could to support my candidate. And by the way, I haven’t decided who to support, just want to have some options. This party has done nothing to attract voter interest to its ideas.

  • Josh says “We need less of the uneducated in the VA GOP.” Hmm. I think it may working in quite an opposite direction. What I suppose was most galling when it was announced yesterday that Newt was not qualified for the ballot was the absolute smugness, arrogance, and down-right mean and ugly comments made by so many who were obvious in utter glee. Yes, I mean the “leaders” of the RVP. Really a turn off.

    Now, I have another question for the experts here who blame the Democrats for the Republican Party’s rules. Is this 10,000 signature qualification for a party primary set by state code, or that something the RPV came up with on its own?

  • Thus whole insiders vs. outsiders nonsense has got to stop. When we are talking about presidential politics, all the players are insiders. Perry’s campaign chair is Jerry Kilgore, a past Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate, and his brother is a sitting Delegate. They knew the rules – Jerry had to abide by the, when he ran statewide twice. Gingrich lives in McLean and has access to just about anybody he wants.

    I am pleased this happened because I have felt for quite a long time that both the Perry and Gingrich campaigns have been faking it and I have taken a lot of hits from my colleagues for expressing that position. What happened here proves me right, and it goes to my primary point that when it comes to presidential primaries, organization matters more than ideology or debates. You can fake everything but organization.

    This is a lesson I learned first hand last cycle.

    Craig, the signature requirements are in the Virginia Code. They aren’t an RPV creation. Title 24.2 deals with elections. Go check it out.

  • Brian, thanks for the clarification. I can’t seem to find any web site for Virginia code. Maybe it isn’t on line. You make some good points and actually, Newt’s analogy to Pearl Harbor was quite accurate: it was an avoidable disaster caused by inattention to detail.

  • Brian Kirwin
  • Sandy

    Thank you once again Brian S- I have carried your arrogant and elitist comments around the webosphere everywhere I can, but have not mentioned your name. I will now carry your arrogant elitist comments, complete with your name around with my comments. A veteran political professional for sure. Your gloating against the Perry and Gingrich campaigns are as VA insider politics as can be, and that is exactly what the awoken conservative electorate is against.

  • Jeff Miller

    I was struck by the distinct lack of volunteer activity in Northern Va. by most of the Presidential campaigns this year. That was reflected in their poor performance in filing (2 had insufficient petitions, and 3 didn’t bother trying).

    Four years ago, nearly all of the Presidential campaigns had volunteers at many political and community functions throughout NoVa, to gather signatures. And six Republican candidates did qualify for the ’08 primary ballot.

    I’m an active member of my County Committee, and attended multiple party, local campaign & community events this fall. But the only Presidnetial campaign with any noticeable volunteer presence was Romney. I saw Gingrich volunteers collecting signatures only once, and no effort by Perry (or Santorum, Huntsman or Bachmann).

    It was a flawed performance by most of the Presidential campaigns. I would have liked to see more choices on the Presidential primary ballot. But the other campaigns should accept responsibility for their own shortcomings, and hot try to shift the blame elsewhere.

    @Craig Kilby – Va. Code available online at

  • CW

    “And I’m proud of the role Virginia has played in clearing up who are the legitimate candidates and who are not.”

    So the frontrunner in Virginia (Gingrich) is not a legitimate candidate? What nonsense.

    Most non political junkie Virginia Republicans I have spoken to over the last few days indicate skepticism toward the whole process. People want choice in a primary — we don’t want to be herded to voting for a candidate less conservative than John McCain or the Libertarian.

    So what will a majority of Republicans in Virginia do on Super Tuesday???? That’s right — STAY HOME.

  • Gretchen Laskas

    I don’t know what Republicans were doing on election day, but many Democrat precinct captains also had Obama certification forms available to voters. It was a good strategy that paid off — you were fairly certain that almost every signature was a legitimate voter in that congressional district.

    And for the record, while I am a strong Dem, I’m egalitarian when it comes to people getting on the ballot, or a ballot initiative. So even someone like me would have signed multiple ballots for Republican presidential candidates, simply because I believe democracy is still the best way to run a country/city/county/district and the best democracy offers real choices.

  • Sandy, thanks for providing my commentary to a wider audience.

    CW, there have been multiple front runners in Virginia over the last few months. Cain, Gingrich, Romney and Perry have all led at some point. And the last poll I saw had Gingrich leading Romney by 5 points with 17% undecided. Gingrich may be leading a poll, but that doesn’t make him a front runner. And his failure to get on the ballot demonstrates that. The road to the nomination is a long, hard one and you can get by on media coverage and being the anti-other guy candidate only for so long. Newt doesn’t have the organization to make this a national race. Only Paul and Romney apparently do.

    It’s unfortunate that we’ve generated such a culture of skepticism that an easily explained event – two campaigns failing to do what they should have done – becomes some kind of insider conspiracy. That kind of stuff only happens in the movies. People not doing their jobs happens all the time.

    Gretchen, the only presidential campaign I saw actively canvassing on election day 2011 was Ron Paul. .

  • CW

    Brian, no one disputes your point that organization matters. But it hardly rounds out the entire definition of “legitimate.”

    However, when only 2 of 7 candidates make the Virginia ballot — it is the process of getting on the ballot which bears further scrutiny.

    What we have is a system which rewards those with large warchests and organizations going in to a race and which punishes candidates like Gingrich who catch on later. This is a problem for those of us who do not care for establishment-pushed non Republicans like Romney who yearn for a difference between the candidates in 2012.

    I do not subscribe to the consipiracy theory mind you, but I have heard this perception described over and over. And it will not go away.

    Ultimately, most people simply won’t go to the polls on Super Tuesday. It’s truly sad for all Virginians and hopefully, the GA will look at this come session.

    I can’t really understand the requirement for a certain number of signatures per Congressional district for instance. We’re all Virginians — who cares? Also, is there something magical about the number 10,000? How about 5,000? I mean — there are certainly amendments which could be discussed.

  • CW- Virtually every presidential candidate in the past 3 elections (since the current law was enacted in 1999) have managed to get on the ballot, including such fringe candidates as Lyndon LaRouche and Dennis Kucinich. Every candidate in the current election has known the rules since they entered the race. The 5 candidates who did not get on the ballot have no one but themselves to blame. Getting 600 signatures per congressional district is not an unreasonable standard. Back in my College Republican days, we could do that in a weekend. The rule both prevents having an unwieldy number of candidates on the ballot and forces presidential candidates to have a meaningful campaign presence in Virginia. Any current presidential candidate who could not do what Lyndon LaRouche was able to do in a previous election should be embarrassed at being exposed as lacking viability.

  • CW

    An unwieldy number of candidates on the ballot? What number is unweildy this year? 3?

    And please define “a meaningful campaign presence.” I don’t know what that means.

    This is exactly what I am talking about – mishy mashy words that mean nothing but that serve as the underpinning of the law. The fact that it’s hard to articulate, Ken, is a problem.

  • CW- It’s not hard to articulate at all. We’ve had as many as 6 or 7 names on the ballots in the past 3 elections BECAUSE THAT MANY CANDIDATES MET THE STATE REQUIREMENTS FOR BALLOT ACCESS. But if we didn’t have a qualification requirement and any applicant could be on the ballot, we would have hundreds of names on the ballot. I would say anywhere from 2-7 names on a ballot is pretty unwieldy. And “meaningful campaign presence” can easily be defined as that amount of campaign presence necessary to get a mere 600 signatures per congressional district. Five out of the seven candidates did not even have enough campaign presence in our state to meet that minimal standard, and the result is that they didn’t EARN a spot on our ballot.

  • Correction- I meant to say that 2-7 names on a ballot in NOT unwieldly.

  • Correction to my correction- “unwieldy” (I need to start proofreading before clicking “submit.”)

  • Joe

    Some candidates would rather take a Cruise than collect signatures.

  • Conservative gal
  • CW

    A description of the result of the rules does not justify their existence. This is a logical fallacy.

    Then there is an assertion that we would have hundreds of names on the ballot. Is there any evidence that this would occur?

    I would submit that a candidate who submits 5,000 names without a Congressional district requirement can be just as “legitimate” as one who meets the current rules.

  • Nah, Ken…we just need to get on a stable server so that we can install “comment preview” w/o breaking the site.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Gentlemen, it appears that candidates qualified in previous primaries because in those elections, no one checked the names on the petitions.

    RPV started line-by-line reviews of petitions only last year.

  • Conservative gal
  • conservative commentator

    I always find it ironic when a bunch of old white men complain about voter restrictions…

  • Or CNU graduates who use fake names…

  • ..or people who have been dead 10 years.. as they say vote early and vote often.

  • Conservative Gal–yes, that is an excellent article and yes, droves of Republicans will just stay home on Super Tuesday because they can’t vote for the candidate of their choice, while the Dems can gleefully go in to vote for Ron Paul. Just a wonderful little system we have here, isn’t it? I like how the article points out that both Paul and Romney could have turned piles of petitions signed by Micky Mouse. We’ll never know because NOBODY even looked at them. I don’t know where it says in the statutes anything about a free pass if you get over 15,000 signatures. But alas and alack, so it goes. We are stuck with this situation. I intend to vote anyway and leave the ballot blank. An undercount. I hope others will do the same.

  • Fat Dave

    Actually, Paul’s and Romney’s signatures were checked, but I guess that doesn’t matter to the spin machine.

  • pleadingfifth

    I think I see what Brian is getting at here:

    The author asserts that, under a policy only just adopted by the RPV in November of this year, this is the first time any candidate’s signatures have been scrutinized line-by-line; whereas, according to him, in past election cycles, candidates were simply deemed to have met the requirement if they turned in at least 10,000 signatures. True?

    As to whether Romney and Paul’s signatures were or were not checked line-by-line, I have heard that if over 15,000 signatures are submitted, a random sample is taken. If 80% of the sample signatures are valid, no further checking is required. Have I heard correctly? It’s a perfectly legitimate method, or so my statistician informs me ;), but might that account for the claim that Romney and Paul’s signatures were not checked as thoroughly as the others?

  • pleadingfifth

    I’m not sure if Akismet ate my last comment because of the link or because I goofed and used the wrong email address. Or perhaps it deemed my signature invalid. Ha.

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