Helen Whalen Cohen

Yesterday Townhall reported that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli floated the idea of emergency legislation to get Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman on the ballot for the presidential primary. This afternoon, General Cuccinellis office sent an email retracting the idea. The statement, in full, is below:

 

"I obviously feel very strongly that Virginia needs to change its ballot access requirements for our statewide elections. However, after working through different scenarios with Republican and Democratic leaders to attempt to make changes intime for the 2012 Presidential election, my concern grows that we cannot find a way to make such changes fair to the Romney and Paul campaigns that qualified even with Virginia's burdensome system. A further critical factor that I must consider is that changing the rules midstream is inconsistent with respecting and preserving the rule of law - something I am particularly sensitive to as Virginia's attorney general.

"My intentions have never focused on which candidates would be benefited or harmed, rather I have focused on what is best for Virginia's citizens, as hundreds of thousands of Virginians who should have been able to make their choices among the full field of presidential primary contenders have had their number of choices reduced significantly.

"My primary responsibility is to the people of Virginia, and how best to fulfill that responsibility in these particular circumstances has been a very difficult question for me. I believe consistency on the part of public officials is an important attribute. And I believe that Virginians are best served by an attorney general who consistently supports the rule of law. That leads to my conclusion that while I will vigorously support efforts to reduce the hurdles to ballot access in Virginia for all candidates, I will not support efforts to apply such changes to the 2012 Presidential election.

"I do not change position on issues of public policy often or lightly.  But when convinced that my position is wrong, I think it necessary to concede as much and adjust accordingly."

I applaud General Cuccinelli's decision. Changing the rules in the middle of the process smacks of disregard for the rule of law and sets a dangerous precedent. As is the case with any other law, the proper method for change is to lobby for it consistently, not to demand a rewrite because someone doesn't like the outcome.


Helen Whalen Cohen

Helen Whalen Cohen is Associate Editor and Community Manager at Townhall.com.