Gingrich out of Virginia primary election

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 24, 2011 10:48 AM
Gingrich out of Virginia primary election

By Sam Youngman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has failed to meet the requirements to be in the primary election in his home state of Virginia, the state's Republican Party said.

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives defiantly pledged to run a write-in campaign for the March 6 primary.

Texas Governor Rick Perry also failed to make the ballot for the state's Republican vote. Only former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul qualified for the Virginia vote.

Despite Gingrich's last-minute effort to submit his petitions by Thursday's deadline, the state party said on its website on Saturday that a verification process showed he had not submitted the 10,000 signatures required to qualify for the primary.

The Virginia state board of elections earlier said Gingrich, among the top three Republican candidates nationally, had made the ballot with 11,050 signatures.

"Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot," Gingrich campaign director Michael Krull said. "Voters deserve the right to vote for any top contender, especially leading candidates.

"We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia to pursue an aggressive write-in campaign to make sure that all the voters of Virginia are able to vote for the candidate of their choice," Krull said.

After Gingrich staged two campaign events in the state last week, his campaign was confident he had made the ballot even as his last-minute scramble raised concerns about Gingrich's abilities to run a national campaign.

(Reporting By Sam Youngman; Editing by Bill Trott)