GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has failed to qualify for the Virginia 2012 Republican primary, to be held on March 6. The former House Speaker’s campaign had launched an 11th-hour drive to sign the necessary 10,000 signatures, including 400 voters in each of the state’s Congressional districts. Last Friday, the campaign had declared their effort a determined success after submitting 11,000 names, but Republican state officials soon ruled that many of the signatures were not valid. Thus prohibiting Gingrich’s name on the ballot.
Gingrich’s absence on the ballot is both a strategic failure and personal embarrassment. Main rivals Mitt Romney and Ron Paul submitted their signatures and secured ballot spots weeks prior, Gingrich’s belated and ultimately failed effort shines a light on the logistical handicaps of his campaign. Earlier this year, the Gingrich campaign witnessed the mass resignation of senior staff and the unexpected jump in the polls has triggered a hasty effort to expand the campaign’s arm beyond the early primary states. But erecting ground operations is a costly and timely process and often cannot be done on the quick-and-easy, as exemplified by the last-minute voter drive.
It further explains why the Romney campaign believes a long-fought battle with Gingrich would be advantageous to their candidate given their superior logistical network and deeper cash reserves.
In addition, Gingrich is a Virginia resident. And has been for the past 10 years. He’s also registered to vote in the state. In the most prominent electoral campaign in his life, Gingrich will not be able to cast a vote for his own nomination.
According to polls, Gingrich is leading among conservative Virginia voters and the state holds its primary the week before the crucial Super Tuesday, when several states vote in what may be a decisive night for deciding the nominee. A missed opportunity by the Gingrich campaign made all the worse given its self-inflection. But the campaign is not entirely ready to concede the state and is looking into whether they can “list” as a write-in candidate.
The Gingrich campaign did not mince words in laying the blame on the state GOP. Calling it a “failed system” in denying voters the opportunity to cast ballots for some of the main candidates, but adding, “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.” And, in a note of dramatization, the campaign likened it to Pearl Harbor. “Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941,” said the campaign director Michael Krull on Facebook. “Throughout the next months there will be ups and downs; there will be successes and failures; there will be easy victories and difficult days—but in the end we will stand victorious.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was similarly denied a place on the state ballot. Virginia’s Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell hasn’t endorsed a candidate but previously intimated his support for Romney.