Early Christmas Eve morning, the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) reported that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich failed to turn in enough valid signatures to make the Virginia primary ballot.
It should come as no shock to people following the Virginia GOP presidential primary saga that Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry all failed to make the primary ballot. Only Romney and Paul had the organizational structure in place to collect the required 10,000 valid signatures by the December 22 deadline.
Where did the failed candidates go wrong?
Romney began collecting petitions signatures in Virginia on August 1. Two months ago The Washington Examiner reported that Romney was the only candidate (besides Paul, who was not mentioned in the article) who had set up any sort of real campaign infrastructure in Virginia. Bill Bolling’s endorsement of the former Massachusetts Governor put Romney at significant advantage. Bolling, who plans to run for Governor in 2013, serves as the campaign’s state chair and has lent the Romney campaign use of his campaign organization structure.
Romney was also one of the only candidates collecting signatures on Election Day in Virginia (Virginia has off-year elections for its local positions and State Legislature seats). Rick Perry and Herman Cain – who is no longer running – were the only other candidates to make use of the opportunity.
Perry only began collecting signatures in early November. The candidate reportedly donated money to the state’s College Republicans chapters for help from individual members to collect signatures at the polls on Nov. 8 and at the well-attended UVA-Virginia Tech football game on Nov. 26.
And at prominent Republican events in Virginia, sources familiar with the signature collection process say they only regularly witnessed Ron Paul and Romney supporters collecting signatures at those, including at local GOP meetings and a large Gun Show at the Dulles Expo Center in November. Other candidates did not begin widely circulating their petitions around the county GOP meetings until December.
And what a difference it’s made.
The Republican Party of Virginia confirmed Friday morning that both Ron Paul and Mitt Romney had met the threshold to appear on the ballot. Paul turned in 14, 361 signatures. Romney turned in 16,026, far above the required 10,000. A Romney staffer said because he cleared 15,000 signatures, the party only checked a sample of his signatures, but nearly 80 percent of those checked were valid.
Huntsman, Bachmann and Santorum (who lives in Virginia) did not turn in signatures by the 5pm Dec. 22 deadline. Oddly enough, Santorum’s wife was spotted at the Dulles Expo Gun Show, but was not collecting signatures for her husband.
Gingrich turned in 11,050 signatures but also did not make the ballot, despite previous claims from the candidate that he had collected 12,000 -14,000 petition signatures and would make the ballot.
Gingrich, whose national campaign headquarters opened in Virginia this summer, has been plagued with disorganization in Virginia and elsewhere. His campaign only began collecting signatures in Virginia a mere month ago. The campaign has struggled to stay viable since massive staff departures last spring after a string of negative stories about the candidate were published, including an article from Politico in late May reporting Gingrich’s disappearance from the campaign trail to take a cruise.
Ironically, Gingrich currently leads Romney in Virginia, according to a recent poll.