Virginia Attorney General To Push For Legislation To Allow Perry & Gingrich On Ballot

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced today that he would be seeking a legislative solution to the problems encountered by the Perry and Gingrich campaigns in the Old Dominion:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is intervening in the Virginia presidential primary dispute and plans to file emergency legislation to address the inability of most Republican presidential candidates to get their name on the ballot, Fox News has learned.

Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the Virginia primary, a contest with 49 delegates up for grabs.

The failure of other candidates to qualify — notably Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry — led to complaints that the 10,000-signature requirement is too stringent.

Cuccinelli, who is a Republican, shared the concerns.

“Recent events have underscored that our system is deficient,” he said in a statement. “Virginia owes her citizens a better process. We can do it in time for the March primary if we resolve to do so quickly.”

Cuccinelli’s proposal is expected to state that if the Virginia Board of Elections certifies that a candidate is receiving federal matching funds, or has qualified to receive them, that candidate will upon request be automatically added to the ballot.

Two former Democratic attorneys general are also backing the move, along with a former Democratic state party chairman and a former Republican state party chairman.

Former state Attorney General Tony Troy called the Virginia process a “legal and constitutional embarrassment.”

It’s also being reported that Governor McDonnell will be backing the legislation.

As a permanent solution to questions of ballot access, this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, however whether anything can be done in Richmond in time to get candidates on the ballot for the March 6th primary is unclear. Ordinarily, legislation passed by the House of Delegates and Senate and signed by the Governor does not go into effect until July 1st, which is obviously too late to do anything about the March primary. In order for a law to become effective immediately upon signature by the Governor, it would have to be passed by supermajorities in both houses of General Assembly, not just any supermajority, but a 4/5ths supermajority. Even with bipartisan support this is by no means certain, especially in the State Senate, which is nearly equally divided between Republicans and Democrats.Additionally, the state legislature does not convene until January 11, 2012. As I noted yesterday, the State Board of Elections has already said that the ballots for the March 6th primary will be printed by January 9th, two days before the legislature convenes. Additionally, as a matter of law, absentee and military ballots must be ready to be mailed no later than January 21, 2012, ten days after the legislature convenes. Absent what would essentially amounts to unanimous consent, as well as an agreement to skip the normal committee process, it would be next to impossible for the legislature to pass a law and the Governor to sign it in time for the SBOE to be able to do the job it is required to do under the law. This doesn’t even account, by the way, for the fact that you’d need some amount of time for the campaigns whose candidates have been barred from the ballot to apply to the SBOE to be listed under the law proposed by Cuccinelli.

Stay tuned, but if I were Gingrich, Perry, or any of the other candidates excluded from the ballot, I would not hold my breath.


FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tano says:

    Hope the Dems play hardball and get some good concessions in exchange for their cooperation.

  2. The Democrats are going to have little incentive to save Newt and Perry here, and I’m not at all sure that the entire GOP caucus in either the House of Delegates or the Senate would support it.

    This won’t pass.

    Cuccinelli is running for Governor in 2013 and he’s got a primary to worry about. My theory is that he’s doing this so he can say to the Newt and Perry supporters in Virginia “Hey, at least I tried”.

  3. Vec says:

    Why does something tell me that Ron Paul would have been ignored if it were he in Gingrich’s or Romney’s situation? Of course, the Establishment-Statist political hacks all watch out for each other to perpetuate their status quo. But that’s just my opinion…

  4. PD Shaw says:

    As far as retroactive rule-changes, I’m not sure that just allowing the two on the ballots is the most fair. If the premise is that the petition requirements are too tough, they were too tough for all of the Republican candidates, just some were deterred from even trying.

  5. Gustopher says:

    If the Democrats agree to help, they should require the loyalty oath be dropped — or was that another state putting that in?

  6. PJ says:

    Democrats in Virginia should do anything they can to make sure it fails without them being blamed for it failing. Anything that will end with Perry or Gingrich blaming either the GOP in Virginia or Romney for them not being on the ballot would be good news for Democrats in November.
    And any Romney supporters who think that Perry and Gringrich being excluded is good news are rather shortsighted.

  7. Alex says:

    Even if the legislature does manage to pass this really quickly, I would think that Romney and Paul would have enough cause to file a lawsuit complaining that they followed the rules only to see them overturned. They might not win, but they could probably get a judge to delay long enough that it would be even more impossible to get the others on the ballot.

  8. PJ says:


    Even if the legislature does manage to pass this really quickly, I would think that Romney and Paul would have enough cause to file a lawsuit complaining that they followed the rules only to see them overturned.

    Romney filing a lawsuit demanding to have Gingrich and Perry removed? That will never happen, if he does then his fingers will be all over it. Right now while not-Romney voters in Virgina might feel and perceive that Romney is behind it, there’s no evidence for it (and most likely he isn’t). But then, if he secretly wishes to lose Virginia in November, then he should sue…

    And if there is any other candidates left after Virginia and Romney did sue, than those candidates have some great fodder for attack ads.

  9. @Alex:

    If the impossible does happen and this becomes law in time, I don’t see any legal grounds that Romney and Paul would have to challenge it.

  10. David says:

    I don’t think they can get it done in time. But if they did, I’d think the Romney and Paul campaigns will be more than a little miffed. How much did it cost them to get their signatures? I think the change is fine, but changing the rules at the end is odd. In effect, the change gives a financial benefit to those who didn’t play by the rules.

  11. Contracts says:

    Pardon me for asking, but why do we assume the Democrats would be opposed to the measure? This would make VA more of a battleground for the Rs, meaning that more attacks on the eventual R nominee would be made in VA, easing Obama’s path in the general. Additionally, if you agree that Romney is the most viable candidate in the general, why would you help the Republicans essentially concede the state to him? Finally, the longer this stays in the news, the longer it will make the Republicans (esp. Gingrich and Perry, but let’s not pretend that this is good news for anyone) look like morons.

    So why would the Democrats oppose Cuccinelli here?

  12. PJ says:


    So why would the Democrats oppose Cuccinelli here?

    Republican Not-Romney voters in Virginia deciding to either stay home in November or vote third party. That’s why.

    Currently (this will obviously change in remaining two months) about 50-70% of Republican voters in Virginia prefers a candidate who won’t appear on the ballot in the primary.

    I think being denied to cast your vote for the candidate you prefer will have a greater impact, and it will make it harder for a lot of voters to support Romney in November. Especially if they think he had his hands all over it.

  13. Justin T says:

    You think they would do this if Ron Paul was excluded? Yeah right — better change the rules quick so the Warmongering Idiots can get on the ballot. America’s political system is a FARCE.

  14. Tano says:


    So why would the Democrats oppose Cuccinelli here?

    Because Cucinneli wants to pass the bill. Whether or not the Dems would really want it passed on not, it makes sense for them to maintain a front of opposition so as to be able to extract concessions from the Republicans.

    The issue is not whether the Dems want the bill to pass or not – it is who wants it more. That is the party that is going to have to pay something to get the other party to go along.

  15. Franklin says:

    I guess I was raised to play by the rules you have. If there’s a problem with the rules, change them before you play next time, not during the current game.