Virginia, then, has done the nation a service. It has winnowed the Republican field in advance of, and with greater precision than, the place-proud voters of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Really, I thought winning an election was about motivating and inspiring people to vote for you, not setting up arbitrary hurdles and seeing which organization could jump over them. It’s the Michael Dukakis competence argument — I bet he didn’t miss making a single ballot deadline.
And I don’t recall other ballot rules being changed in the final month of qualification, as appears to have happened here, so that two candidates (Newt and Perry) who would have qualified in prior cycles did not qualify.
Virginia A.G. Ken Cuccinelli has a good take on the situation (via Other McCain):
. . .it now appears that the only two candidates that will be on Virginia’s ballot on March 6th: Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Ron Paul. While I’m glad for them, it screams out for making our ballot more accessible….
Let’s face it, absent a serious write-in challenge from some other candidate, Virginia won’t be nearly as ‘fought over’ as it should be in the midst of such a wide open nomination contest. Our own laws have reduced our relevance….
It’s probably futile, but there is a campaign being organized to urge the Virginia GOP to reconsider not how it applied and interpreted its signature requirements.
If you want to help, do something this morning. This Action Alert appears at Doug Ross’ website, Director Blue:
Action Alert: I urge you to contact the Virginia GOP and demand that they include Gingrich and Perry on the ballot. Be polite, but firm. There’s no excuse for issuing new rules at the last minute that just happen to exclude the leading candidates. In fact, it’s an outrage.
This is not a good situation for Romney, either. A win in Virginia will be tainted due to the GOP establishment changing the rules, and a loss to Ron Paul would be a major embarrassment; if Virginia provided the margin of victory at the convention, the nomination would be delegitimized. Romney should want to win, but not this way.