Cuccinelli Wants The Bar Lowered (And Why That’s a BAD IDEA)

From this week’s Cuccinelli Compass…

To get on the ballot, a presidential candidate has to collect 10,000 legitimate signatures across Virginia – county by county and city by city – with at least 400 legitimate signatures in each congressional district.  Virginia’s State Board of Elections recommends that campaigns come in with over 15,000 signatures, including over 700 from each congressional district given what a high proportion of signatures typically fail some requirement or another.

I would throw out for consideration that we should lower our requirements to 100 legitimate signatures per congressional district.

…and I say enough damn whining about it.

Let’s face it.  The bar was not that high to begin with.  A determined holiday shopper for two weeks could have traveled Virginia and obtained the requisite 1,000 signatures per congressional district and made the ballot.

Only two campaigns had the “ground game” (if that’s what it could be called — 1,000 petition signatures per district ain’t a “ground game”) to get the job done.  Whomever was in charge of the effort for Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, or Huntsman should be piked.

Vlad for RPV Chairman...


But you guys understand what’s happened, right?

Romney has serious issues with both conservatives and evangelical voters still squeamish about his Mormonism, much less Romney’s commitment to either fiscal or social conservatism.

Paul in stark contrast — and even under the best of conditions — looks like a replay of Goldwater ’64.  Which is great if we’re looking to turn the Republican Party into the Libertarian Party, or better if we’re looking to jettison the social conservative movement (abortion, drug legalization, and marriage — Paul is either agnostic or to the left of many social conservatives), but terrible if we’re looking to build the Reagan Coalition for the long haul.

In purely Roman terms, our choices are between a Massachusetts Tiberius or a Texan Caligula — a moderate (dare I say, Rockerfeller liberal?) who believes in the social welfare state, or a libertarian so opposed to the power of the federal government that American hegemony teeters in the balance.

In short, because two people working for Perry and Gingrich couldn’t get the job done, the first major primary — in Battleground Virginia no less — after all the second tier candidates have bled off, will now consist of only two choices: Romney or Paul.

Guess who’s happy about that?

Pearl Harbor indeed.

Of course, those two people are going to whine and complain: “Well if you felt that strongly about it (insert your name here), why didn’t you do more to get those petitions signed?!”  Great damn question… where was the clarion call for volunteers?  Who called their friends?  Who called churches?  Who did that hardcore grassroots campaigning to make it happen?

Y’all didn’t… and frankly, it’s not our job to ask.

Tough primary season, folks.  In one week, Iowa voters will vote between a sea of candidates with only two viable contenders.  In New Hampshire and South Carolina, the same.

After Super Tuesday… well… good thing we have a U.S. Senate campaign to work for.

That should bring us back full circle.  Cuccinelli’s idea, while worthwhile from a certain perspective, is really activism on the cheap.  It doesn’t take that much to get 10,000 signatures.  In fact, that’s a fairly low bar for statewide activism.  Why waste the voter’s time expecting earned media to carry a weak candidate?  Cuccinelli of all people understands the values of grassroots campaigning… and all but two candidates failed that critical test on December 23rd.

  • No JOKE! And here is the “not the end of the story”.

    Interesting Newt isn’t giving up when he couldn’t get in the first game. Now this IS a joke!!!

  • What do you say to the response that the bar has effectively been raised this cycle since the party didn’t check the signatures before as long as someone had 10k. At bare minimum we can’t say Alan Keyes et al are better organizationally than Newt or Rick When it appears Newt and Rick accomplished what those campaigns did before.

  • @Kathy —

    Oh, it gets much worse this evening:

    So if the people thru ballots can’t pick their nominees, why not let Capitol Hill insiders do it on our behalf — right?

    Pathetic, disgusting, and outrageous.

  • Very true… was just reading a book on this concept on the Election of 1800 and how fraudulent it really was (and sent it to Jim Hoeft, BTW).

    Gingrich has completely lost me at this point. Send in the lawyers when the process fails? That’s backwater banana republic democracy at its absolute worst, IMO.

  • It’s my opinion too.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Send in the lawyers when the process fails?

    So, you admit the process failed.

  • It failed the ambitions of certain candidates, to be sure…

  • The process didn’t fail Brian, their support and planning failed. In your answer I can tell you are disappointed. So am I. Very.

  • This certainly fails the voters. How are we enabled, and how is democracy served, by promoting a system that says we have to vote the way Virginia tells us to?

  • Brian Kirwin

    Something tells me a certain Senate race has more to do with this sudden “check every name” attitude than Newt Gingrich does.

  • @CR UVA —

    You don’t — campaigns have the right to get individuals to sign petitions to get themselves on the ballot, thus weeding out non-competitive races and enabling anyone to run on the GOP primary ticket.

    Just think if all the effort that is about to be expended upon lawyers and press were actually expended two weeks ago in petition signatures? But folks want to do things either on the cheap or lazily… so here we are…

  • As a Independent Green Party conservative, please permit a few points.

    The Independent Greens of Virginia have for well over a decade managed to collected 20,000 signatures statewide to get our “fiscally conservative” candidates on the ballot in statewide races. Many years we’ve collected almost 100,000 Independent Green petition signatures to get our congressional, senate, and presidential candidates on the Virginia ballot.

    Make no mistake. It is indeed focused, disciplined, dedicated work. Shows grassroots support across the decades for our conservative “More Trains, Less Traffic” patriotic message.

    Shouldn’t we be able to prove the common sense support for sensible, positive solutions with signatures, before being placed on the ballot.

    Conservative Independent Greens think so, and respectfully question the need to reduce these requirements.

    God bless.

  • Darrell

    Well you got your wish. The primary is now weeded out to non-competiveness.

  • pleadingfifth

    “Well if you felt that strongly about it (insert your name here), why didn’t you do more to get those petitions signed?!”

    Just for the sake of argument – because, believe me, I’m not one bit pleased that my preferred candidate’s VA campaign chairman wasn’t up to the task! – is it possible that with over 10,000 signatures each, both the Gingrich and Perry campaigns were operating under formerly safe assumptions that suddenly became outdated? Perhaps even as recently as November of this year?

  • *points up to Conservative Independent Greens*

    If they can do it… well, I’d say anyone can. But that ain’t so. Independent Greens and other parties work hard to get on the ballot because they believe in their ideas.

    Republicans have just become too lazy. Which means either those who can afford activism (Romney) or those who truly believe in their ideas (libertarians supporting Paul) make it on the ballot.

    What does this say for national security conservatives? Fiscal conservatives? Social conservatives? Tea Party conservatives? I mean, all four legs of the table just got kicked this week… and no one else is hitting the PANIC BUTTON??

  • Samuel Gilleran

    Shaun, I don’t think it’s a laziness issue. I think it’s simply inept organization. A couple of nights ago, I bashed on voters who didn’t care enough to get their candidate of choice on the ballot. While I stand by that, my mother shocked me back into reality over Christmas dinner when she retorted that she had never had to gather signatures for a national candidate. And she has a point. National campaigns have the dollars and they should be taking care of these details long before the deadline.

    Personally, I think this is going to lead to renewed grassroots activism in Virginia on the “We’re not letting THAT happen again” principle, and nobody is going to miss any ballots for want of signatures any time soon.

    I would also like to state that I do agree with Mr. Kirwin that I suspect this was supposed to be about a certain Senate race and RPV got caught out in the rain when it happened that two Presidential campaigns were inept.

  • Arthur A Lovisi

    As to the reference to “earned media proping up weak candidates”. This crazy election year eschewed two things. First by starting early all the candidates eschewed spending limits because they blew them (or expected to) by September and so they also turned down Federal Matching funds. Otherwise theyed be getting an infusion of cash this week.

    Second the record number of debates gave unprecedanted scrutiny to candidates ON ISSUES instead of how well they look fliping hamburgers. For conservatives isn’t that a good thing. Haven’t our best guys always outdebated theirs? Aren’t we better off with more debates? And shouldn’t we as the solutions party want to offer the candidates who CAN talk at length about the issue and leave the 10 word answers to the other guys who really want the issue not to solve the problem.

  • @CR UVA (wahoowa) – how many signatures were collected by the college republicans at UVA? for that matter, how many signatures were collected (not just signing the petition) by readers of BD for any of the candidates?

  • Haughty, antimajoritarian and arrogant to support continuing a process that excluded from the ballot the candidate who polling the highest. The RPV doesn’t care what the people think. It’s time for third parties and independent candidates to grow, thrive and flourish.

  • Fat Dave

    Methinks the Cooch is just surprised by the weak performance by the TEA Parties on behalf of their pet candidates. He’s got to say something to bolster his base. It ain’t like the Cooch will ever be penalized by this law; he’s a good, conscientious campaigner.

  • @ Amit and Shaun: I again ask, how does this serve the voters? Who cares what the so-called “rights” of the candidates are? Strict requirements on getting a name on the ballot, as frustrating as they are to the voter, are not entirely unreasonable. What is unreasonable is that we can’t even place a write-in vote. We’ve basically been told that we are not allowed to make a choice on our own.

  • Old-geezer

    Perhaps a compromise is needed. Brian said that this “check every name” is new. So allow Perry and Gingrich until 01/31/2012 to collect additional names, that would be fair.

  • Mikey

    Old-geezer – so what about those campaigns and volunteers who busted their butts to meet the original deadline? Who spent money, time, and effort to follow the rules? Punish them because these other guys can’t get their acts together?

  • rgryoung20

    I am furious. The candidate that I wanted to vote for will not be on the ballot come election day. However, I am not furious at the policy, but at the candidate. One of the big differences in party ideology is a sense of personal responsibility. For example, it’s not that it wouldn’t be nice to have “free” health care (insert any other overreach for my benefit here), but I don’t need/want/expect anyone else to provide for me.

    The rules were clear and fairly applied. The only appropriate response from a candidate who did not make it is an apology to their base and a vow to do better in the future. Expectations for someone else to come in behind you and clean up the mess you could have avoided doesn’t represent party ideals.

  • Lee Talley

    Maybe the AG is worried about the bar being too high for him. Hmmmm

  • WilliamDGoose

    The ballot issue was the deciding factor. If a candidate cannot secure his place on the ballot, then it is a sign of poor organization.

    If cewch wants the rewls changed, then that’s for next time. If they change them retroactively, other candidates may argue that they could have qualified under the lower standard, but did not try because of the higher requirements. Such a candidate would have a good argument, but none of these are worthy of our votes.

  • Josh

    Latest headline:

    Congratulations to disorganized campaigns not able to get the job done.

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