Judge to hear Virginia ballot fight on January 13

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 29, 2011 12:58 PM
Judge to hear Virginia ballot fight on January 13

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday set oral arguments for January 13 on Texas Governor Rick Perry's bid to get on the Virginia's Republican primary election ballot after he failed to qualify by the deadline.

The Republican presidential candidate failed to get the 10,000 verifiable signatures, including at least 400 qualified voters from each congressional district, that are necessary to be included in the March 6 primary.

Perry challenged the state's qualification process on constitutional grounds, arguing that it restricts his free speech and association rights and thus limits the access of Virginia voters to the candidates of their choosing.

He asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction against those requirements and order that he be included on the ballot.

U.S. District Judge John Gibney set a January 13 hearing to hear arguments on the request for a preliminary injunction. He also set a January 6 deadline for other candidates who want to join or oppose the lawsuit to do so.

Perry was not alone in failing to qualify for the Virginia primary contest. Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, also came up short but blamed fraud by a hired campaign worker who was accused of turning in fake signatures.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul were the only candidates from the field of top Republican candidates to qualify to be on Virginia's ballot.

Gibney was nominated to the federal bench by Democratic President Barack Obama and confirmed in December 2010.

(Reporting By Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Vicki Allen)