Perry, Gingrich Out; Should Virginia Change Law in Time for 2012 Primary?


    (I don’t particularly agree with this, but it’s an interesting argument. – promoted by lowkell)

    Perry and Gingrich out as predicted: Should the 2012 General Assembly act on its first day to adopt the suggestion herein, and give GOP primary voters what should be their right, to choose their favorite candidate among those who are clearly credible contenders based on the polls?

    by Paul Goldman

    The failures of the Perry and Gingrich campaigns again point out the growing problem in our politics, which is that the internet makes it easy for anyone to talk the talk, but walking the walk is the same as when Moses had to get across the Red Sea without GPS on his Iphone: it is sweat equity, and low tide doesn’t hurt either. Stuff is hard to do. I am sure they will blame the President for this eventually.

    However: Just as states should not be allowed to use ID laws to unfairly restrict voting rights of the people, the Republican loyalists of Virginia should be entitled to vote in their primary for those credible candidates seeking the party’s presidential nomination. Admittedly, the thought of President Bachmann, Gingrich, Huntsman, Perry and Santorium, may be incredible, yet the people – in this case GOP voters – should have their right to pick their nominee.

    Bottom line: While other candidates have, over the years, managed to get on the ballot, the issue is really not about them, but about the people’s right to choose. This is a failing of the national Perry and Gingrich campaigns, I get that. BUT voting rights are about the people, not the process.

    Sure, the system has to be protected from fraud and the crazies, but this can’t be an excuse to, in effect, restrict the right of citizens to cast a ballot for their favorite candidate.


    Bachmann, Huntsman, Gingrich, Perry and Santorium meet the test of legitimate candidates for the GOP nomination. They are getting 5% or more in key polls right now.  Keeping them off the ballot denies the people their right to choose. To be sure the rules on ballot access are equal for all, and well known to the candidates. Virginia Republicans have one of the larger delegations to the GOP Convention, thus it is shocking to think their campaigns could be so incompetent.

    But is this process hurdle consistent with the right of the people?

    This year, the answer is no. If it were a gubernatorial candidate missing the ballot, I would say yes, they’ve got to take the blame and the consequences.

    But presidential candidates are different. Given that we are electing our national leader, logic would suggest we have similar rules for ballot access in all states. Before the 10th Amendment chorus pipes up (or those who want to remind me that we are called the United States of America for a reason), the state’s only agreeing after being assured of certain authorities. Remember, the Constitution gives Congress the power to set uniform standards. Maine used to vote in September for President, the rest later, leading to the famous adage “as Maine goes, so goes the nation.” This worked, given the 1860-1908 period when only one Democrat won, and Maine, like most of the North, voted with the GOP.  

    But eventually, Congress set a uniform day for presidential elections, leaving most of the other rules to be set state by state. This is why we have so many potential lawsuits right now, once again caused largely by each state setting its own rules for our national election for local reasons. It is not the best approach for America right now.

    As a matter of realism, this isn’t going to change anytime soon. Thus, Virginia has to make a decision on principle here, there being no other compelling force. For example, Mr. Gingrich leads the GOP polls in Virginia and is either ahead or tied nationally.

    Did Newt’s campaign bungle the petition drive? Yes. Does this suggest what kind of chaotic White House would exist, if for some reason Americans wanted Newt’s finger on the nuclear trigger (are we that nuts?)? Indeed.

    But should Newt’s name be on the ballot in March given his political standing right now? Yes to that too.

    Should Newt’s campaign stay viable, Virginians will thus be shortchanged come March. The Secretary of the Commonwealth should have the power to put legitimate candidates on the ballot if they meet some credible markers of support, without requiring petitions. Those not meeting this test would still have the petition route.

    This would be a useful change for Virginia law, all upside, no downside.

    Moreover: There is still time to make this change this year. The Governor should order the State Board of Elections to wait before starting to print the ballot. Based on my experience, they can wait until the middle of January 2012. This gives time for the General Assembly to change the law.

    Democrats should help out here. It is not about Bachmann, Gingrich, Huntsman, Perry or Santorium. It is about the people and their right to choose. The shoe might be on the other foot someday for us Democrats. It also helps underscore the risk with all these ID laws which seem to have a partisan motivation.

    We need as open and fair a process for the people, that’s the goal. Right now, the projected GOP presidential primary ballot doesn’t meet this standard. We can change it in time for the March GOP primary in 2012. The people win, no one loses. It just takes a little extra work.

    I say do it.  


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