BY WESLEY P. HESTER
In the latest edition of his e-newsletter, The Cuccinelli Compass, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli suggests a change in Virginia law to relax requirements for candidates seeking to make the ballot in the state for presidential primaries.
Cuccinelli’s suggestion comes days after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the Republican presidential front-runner in the state, failed to make the March 6 primary ballot, as did Texas Gov. Rick Perry. In fact only two candidates did qualify: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.
Virginia requires candidates to obtain 10,000 verified signatures from registered voters across the state, including 400 from each Congressional district.
Instead, Cuccinelli, who recently announced he will seek the governorship in 2013, proposes 100 legitimate signatures per congressional district.
“Let’s face it; absent a serious write-in challenge from some other candidate, Virginia won’t be nearly as ‘fought over’ as it should be in the midst of such a wide open nomination contest. Our own laws have reduced our relevance. Sad,” he writes.
And currently, state law prohibits even the possibility of a write-in challenge.
On Christmas, Gingrich expressed hope that the legislature would change that law prior to the March 6 primary, saying: “If something’s wrong, they ought to fix it.”
The change is unlikely, however, as it would require the legislature to enact emergency legislation immediately upon convening next month, requiring a supermajority.
Regardless, Cuccinelli said he hopes the issue will be addressed.
“I hope our new GOP majorities will fix this problem so that neither party confronts it again. I for one would like Virginia to be heard from in our nomination process, and I’m sure you would too,” he wrote.
Cuccinelli also offered analysis of the Fox News presidential debate that he participated in earlier this month, asking questions of candidates.
He said Rick Santorum performed the strongest while Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney “underperformed, at least relative to the high expectations people have developed of both of them.”
Cuccinelli said that Gingrich “came across as another big-government conservative… whatever that is” and called Romney’s defense of his Massachusetts health care law as “a proudly ‘democrat light’ position.”