In the wake of the Virginia Republican Party’s announcement Saturday morning that Newt Gingrich had not secured the required 10,000 valid signatures to run in the state’s March 6 presidential primary, a campaign spokesman declared that Gingrich is “exploring alternative methods to compete in Virginia — stay tuned.”
On Gingrich’s Facebook page, campaign director Michael Krull noted that he had spoken on Saturday morning about the Virginia setback with Gingrich, who “stated this is not catastrophic,” Krull said. But being left off the ballot in his adopted state on Super Tuesday, when Republican contests in nine other states will be fought in addition to Virginia’s, would be both a potent political and symbolic blow to the candidate who was enjoying a lead over GOP rivals in the Dominion State, according to the Quinnipiac Poll.
With analysts and some party insiders having raised doubts about the depth and skill of Gingrich’s organization, the latest news out of Virginia is certain to exacerbate concerns about the candidate’s long-term viability. Krull was quick to remind skeptics that doom had been forecast for the campaign before, in the wake of a Gingrich staff shake-up. “Remember that it was only a few months ago that pundits and the press declared us dead after the paid consultants left . . . ,” he said. “Some again will state that this is fatal.”
Krull then invoked the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, not the first time that the campaign has drawn comparisons between World War II and its own mission. “Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will regroup and refocus,” Krull said. “[I]n the end we will stand victorious.”
Legal challenge difficulties
Gingrich’s options for winning a spot on the Virginia ballot appear constrained by the election calendar — it is already relatively late in the campaign process, with the State Board of Elections scheduled to meet Wednesday. A spokesman for the Virginia Republican Party said party officials could not meet before then to hear a possible Gingrich appeal, so speculation has turned to the possibility of a legal challenge.
But such a hurdle would be no less formidable for Gingrich, forecasts University of California Irvine professor Richard L. Hasen, who specializes in election law.