Hank Silverberg, wtop.com
WASHINGTON — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican, says it’s an embarrassment that only two of the GOP presidential candidates will be on the ballot for the state’s March 6 primary.
Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul filed the necessary 10,000 signatures to make it on the Republican ballot. Newt Gingrich, who lives in Virginia, didn’t make it by Friday’s deadline.
Cuccinelli, who has already announced he’s running for governor in 2013, says the requirement that candidates get 400 legitimate signatures in each of the state’s 11 congressional districts may be too strict.
He tells WTOP he wants the General Assembly to change that.
“I don’t think I am going to have to ask,” says Cuccinelli. “I think there there’s going to be a stampede of people who are, frankly, somewhat embarrassed that this is the course things have taken in light of our ballot access rules.”
Cuccinelli would like to see the state lower the requirements to 100 verified signatures in each congressional district.
He says he’s been told by the campaign of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., that Virginia is the third hardest ballot access state in the country. Bachmann also failed to gather the necessary 10,000 signatures to get on the Virginia ballot.
State law prohibits voters from adding a write-in candidate, though Gingrich’s campaign has vowed to try that anyway.
Virginia is considered a key state for the November 2012 general election.
The only Democrat on the primary ballot is President Barack Obama, who won the state in 2008. At the time, he was the first Democrat to do so since 1964.
Cuccinelli says the diminished primary will lower Virginia’s profile in the general election.
His potential opponent for the GOP nomination for governor in 2013 is Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. Bolling is currently running Romney’s campaign in Virginia and will play a key roll with a tie-breaking vote in the Assembly where the State Senate is evenly split 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans.
(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)