Rick Perry , a vocal advocate of states rights, has gone to federal court in a bid to overturn the Virginia state law governing access of its ballot. Perry failed to meet the requirements of the state law by submitting enough signatures for the GOP primary in Virginia. The Perry campaign announced it has filed suit challenging the constitutional validity of the Virginia statute that regulates access to the ballot by presidential candidates. Perry’s lawyers say it might be state law, but it limits the rights of voters to vote for the candidate of their choice — i.e. Rick Perry. The Texas governor won’t be on the Virginia primary ballot due to the Perry camp’s failure to get enough signatures.
Perry’s campaign appeared to recognize the problem of touting states rights on one hand while asking the federal government to overrule a states’ law on the other. In a statement, campaign manager Ray Sullivan said: “Gov. Perry greatly respects the citizens and history of the Commonwealth of Virginia and believes Virginia Republicans should have greater access to vote for one of the several candidates for President of the United States. “Virginia ballot access rules are among the most onerous and are particularly problematic in a multi-candidate election. We believe that the Virginia provisions unconstitutionally restrict the rights of candidates and voters by severely restricting access to the ballot, and we hope to have those provisions overturned or modified to provide greater ballot access to Virginia voters and the candidates seeking to earn their support.”
In his book, Fed Up, Perry takes a dim view of federal intervention to change laws that the citizens of individual states choose to pass. “States can be free to experiment with different ideas to deal with societal concerns and problems, and they can do so at a level closer to the people so that those particular trials can match the morals and beliefs of the people most affected,” he wrote. Americans “do not want to be told how to live their lives. They certainly don’t want some faraway bureaucrat, judge or representative of a different community to tell them how to live.”
State rules in Virginia require that a candidate submit 10,000 signatures from registered Virginia voters, including at least 400 from each of the state’s 11 Congressional districts. Neither Perry nor Newt Gingrich submitted enough valid signatures. Analysts said neither camp gathered a sufficient cushion of signatures to assure access in the event that some signatures were thrown out. The episode has proved embarrassing to the Perry campaign, which has touted its organization and financial strengh.