Is the Fix In? Virginia GOP Eliminates 4 of Top 6 Republican Candidates From Republican Primary …Update: VA Law Was Changed in October
Following Governor Chris Christie’s announcement in early October that he would not be running for president, top GOP official and bundler, Georgette Mosbacher told reporters, “We do not consider Perry a factor… We know who will be our nominee.”
Georgette was talking about Mitt “McRomneycare” Romney, of course.
Georgette Mosbacher. HarvardCPL, via flickr (Capital NY)
Maybe Georgette wasn’t kidding. The Virginia GOP effectively eliminated 4 of the top 6 candidates, including Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, from qualifying for the Republican primary in March this past weekend. Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will be on the Virginia GOP primary ballot.
Charles C. Johnson at Big Government today discussed how difficult it was for candidates to qualify for the primary in Virginia.
Candidates are required not only to collect over 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot but have to have at least 400 from each of the state’s eleven congressional districts. Both Perry and Gingrich cleared the first hurdle by at least a thousand signatures, but it appears they may have stumbled on clearing the second. We don’t know this for certain — the Va. GOP hasn’t explained why Gingrich and Perry failed to qualify– but this seems likely.
Gathering enough signatures from enough of the different districts proved too tricky. In at least one district that’s a tall order. Virginia’s 3rd and 8th congressional district, for example, are among the most Democratic in the country, with a PVI score of D+20 and D+16, respectively. Woody Allen may be right when he said 90% of success is just showing up, but it is hard to show up when there is effectively no Republican party in some congressional districts.
Worse yet, Virginia’s House of Delegates complicated matters further when voters may not know which congressional district they live in thanks to an ongoing state-wide fight over redistricting. Virginia Republicans submitted a map in April 2011, but Virginia Democrats seemed insistent on pushing the matter to January 2012 and then to federal court if they don’t enough black–and therefore Democratic–congressional districts. They would sue the state under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and toss the matter of redistricting over to the federal courts.
It’s the prerogative of any state party to set up the rules that govern its primary but it sure seems short-sighted to disqualify two candidates that fulfilled the 10,000 signatures requirement, especially given how much Virginia GOP could benefit from a renewed focus and all that earned media attention on the Old Dominion.
If the Republican Party wanted to rig the system for Mitt Romney then you might expect to see something like this pop up.
But the Republican Party elites would never do anything like that… Right?
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.
And then there’s this:
The VA GOP published a letter that announced that any candidate who submitted a petition with more than 15,000 signatures would not be checked (’shall be deemed to have met the threshold for qualification and will be certified’).
Romney submitted 16,000 signatures. Newt submitted 12,000.
Both Newt and Rick Perry reportedly turned in over 10,000 signatures before the deadline. But it looks like the rules were changed mid-game. This doesn’t pass the smell test.