Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman won permission to join Rick Perry’s bid to gain ballot access to Virginia’s primary election.
U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. in Richmond yesterday approved a request from the candidates, who were disqualified from the state’s primary ballot because they didn’t submit 10,000 signatures from valid Virginia voters, to intervene in the Texas governor’s lawsuit. They argue that Virginia’s ballot rules impose a “severe burden” and are unconstitutional.
“Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state violates proposed plaintiffs’ freedoms of speech and association protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” according to a filing by the candidates.
Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli on Jan. 3 asked Gibney to dismiss Perry’s bid to have his name added to the ballot for the March 6 Republican primary after he failed to collect the 10,000 signatures required by state rules.
Perry “lacks standing to assert an injury arising from the inability to circulate his own petitions because there is no averment that he stood ready, willing and able to circulate his own petitions and there is no basis for concluding that he would have collected a sufficient number of valid signatures,” the state said in its filing.
While former House Speaker Gingrich submitted 11,050 signatures to the Virginia State Board of Elections, less than 10,000 of them were verified as registered voters, according to yesterday’s filing.
Gingrich said last week that someone hired to collect signatures provided false ones.
Santorum submitted more than 8,000 signatures. Huntsman didn’t file papers declaring his candidacy in Virginia because he couldn’t meet the signature requirement, according to the filing.
Perry last week sought a temporary order to halt state officials from printing the ballots, or to require them to include his name. In a lawsuit filed Dec. 27 in federal court in Richmond, Perry claimed the state’s requirement that people who circulate petitions be eligible or registered to vote in Virginia violates his constitutional rights.
Jan. 13 Hearing
Gibney said Dec. 29 that he wouldn’t stop the printing before the next hearing in the case, scheduled for Jan. 13. He didn’t rule on the merits of Perry’s challenge.
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas are the only Republicans to make it onto the ballot for Virginia’s primary on so-called Super Tuesday, the Republican Party of Virginia said last month.
Perry, in a Jan. 3 filing, said he plans to call three witnesses to testify at the Jan. 13 hearing. They include Jerry Kilgore, a former Virginia Attorney General and the Virginia chairman of the Perry campaign; Joe Allbaugh, a former George W. Bush administration official who is now senior adviser to the Perry campaign; and Neal Blair, a lawyer who coordinated Perry’s efforts to get on the ballot in Virginia.
The case is Perry v. Judd, 3:11-cv-00856, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).
--With assistance from Michael Riley in Washington and Bonnie V. Winston in Richmond, Virginia. Editors: Peter Blumberg, Fred Strasser
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