Gingrich and Perry Didn't Qualify for the Virginia Ballot

The campaigns of two of the highest-profile alternatives to Mitt Romney failed to submit enough signatures to make the Republican primary ballot in Virginia.

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Newt Gingrich told reporters this week that his campaign was still collecting signatures in Virginia to qualify for a spot on the primary ballot in that state, but that he expected they'd surpass the requirements to qualify. Not so, as it turns out.

Neither Gingrich nor Rick Perry, erstwhile Republican front-runners both, will be on the Republican primary ballot in Virginia, the state party announced over the weekend, since neither campaign submitted sufficient petition signatures. The announcement is a "significant setback" for Gingrich, The Washington Post declared, since Virginia is Gingrich's current state of residence, and one of those in which he was holding a lead over the rest of the Republican field. The Virginia primary is on March 6.

Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures, and Gingrich’s campaign said it submitted 11,050 signatures. State party officials spent Friday night validating the signatures.

Earlier Friday, the Republican Party of Virginia certified former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) to appear on the ballot.

Gingrich has pledged to forge ahead with a write-in campaign in Virginia, Reuters reported. And the former speaker's campaign said the system in Virginia is the problem, not its petition operation.

"Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot," Gingrich campaign director Michael Krull said. "Voters deserve the right to vote for any top contender, especially leading candidates.

"We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia to pursue an aggressive write-in campaign to make sure that all the voters of Virginia are able to vote for the candidate of their choice," Krull said.

The Perry campaign is resolved to improving its performance elsewhere, The Post reported. Perry, his Virginia campaign chairman said, "can focus on other states."

Update: About that Gingrich write-in threat. Not so fast, says National Journal. Primaries in Virginia don't allow write-ins, unlike general elections, which do. That means there's only one primary choice to be made in Virginia: Ron Paul or Mitt Romney.

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