WASHINGTON – Now that a federal judge in Richmond has refused to allow four presidential candidates to join Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on the Virginia primary ballot, there are concerns many would-be voters will now skip the March 6 primary.
Pat Mullins, Chairman of the Republican Party in Virginia, says turnout will be “way below” what they originally expected.
“We were thinking if all of them had been on the ballot, back when we were thinking about this in the fall, we could well have a million voters,” Mullins says. “We won’t have anywhere near that now.”
Mullins says the judge’s decision does not change how important the Commonwealth is when it comes to picking a Republican nominee.
“We’ve got 49 votes at that Republican National Convention as opposed to New Hampshire where they’ve been 12, and Iowa not much more than that,” he says.
Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum all mounted a legal challenge to Virginia’s ballot qualifying law. The law says each candidate much collect 10,000 signatures, including 400 from each congressional district.
The candidates argued that part of the law that requires the signatures to be collected by Virginia residents was unconstitutional.
Mullins says the judge told the candidates if they would have filed their lawsuit sooner, the judge would have ruled in their favor.
He wishes the situation was different.
“We would love to have had all the candidates on the ballot in Virginia.”