Virginia Attorney General Backs Down On Plan To Change Ballot Access Rules
Just 24 hours after word came out that he was proposing a largely impractical legislative solution to the fact that five Republican Presidential candidates were unable to comply with Virginia’s Ballot Access Law, Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has backed down. This evening, I received the following press release from Brian Gottstein, Director of Communication for the Virginia Attorney General’s Office [emphasis added]:
RICHMOND, VA (January 1, 2012) – Statement from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on changing Virginia’s ballot access law for the March primary:
“I obviously feel very strongly that Virginia needs to change its ballot access requirements for our statewide elections. However, after working through different scenarios with Republican and Democratic leaders to attempt to make changes in time for the 2012 Presidential election, my concern grows that we cannot find a way to make such changes fair to the Romney and Paul campaigns that qualified even with Virginia’s burdensome system. A further critical factor that I must consider is that changing the rules midstream is inconsistent with respecting and preserving the rule of law – something I am particularly sensitive to as Virginia’s attorney general.
“My intentions have never focused on which candidates would be benefited or harmed, rather I have focused on what is best for Virginia’s citizens, as hundreds of thousands of Virginians who should have been able to make their choices among the full field of presidential primary contenders have had their number of choices reduced significantly.
“My primary responsibility is to the people of Virginia, and how best to fulfill that responsibility in these particular circumstances has been a very difficult question for me. I believe consistency on the part of public officials is an important attribute. And I believe that Virginians are best served by an attorney general who consistently supports the rule of law. That leads to my conclusion that while I will vigorously support efforts to reduce the hurdles to ballot access in Virginia for all candidates, I will not support efforts to apply such changes to the 2012 Presidential election.
“I do not change position on issues of public policy often or lightly. But when convinced that my position is wrong, I think it necessary to concede as much and adjust accordingly.”
The translation of all of this is that Cuccinelli spent hours on the phone with Republicans and Democrats and learned very quickly that there was no way his proposed legislation would make it through the Virginia legislature in time to have an effect on the March 6th ballot. Of course, I told everyone that was the case yesterday.