Gingrich hopes Va. will count write-in votes, source says chances slim to none

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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Virginia’s March 6 Republican primary will be a two-man race.

After they failed to meet the signature requirement to appear on the state’s “Super Tuesday” ballot, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were disqualified from taking part in the contest.

Gingrich ended his legal quest to overturn the state party’s signature requirement Monday.

Write-in votes will not be tabulated under current election rules, leaving Gingrich and Santorum supporters with few options. Asked about the dilemma, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told The Daily Caller the campaign remains “hopeful the legislature will act to allow write-ins.”

A source close to the Republican legislative leadership in Virginia, however, noted that one such bill was recently dropped by its sponsor, and that any subsequent attempt to change the rules would require an emergency clause if it were to take effect before July 1.

The source also said absentee ballots have already been printed. If emergency legislation were somehow approved, the impact of write-in votes would be greatly diminished.

Supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul hope to take full advantage of the two-man race against former Massachusetts Gov. and current front-runner Mitt Romney.

Although Paul’s best performance so far this season was a 23 percent showing in New Hampshire, closely followed by 21 percent in Iowa and 19 percent in Nevada, the Virginia race will be less fractured, presenting a test for whether the libertarian champion can shatter perceptions that he has limited electoral appeal.

The Gingrich campaign didn’t elaborate on how it would like supporters to cast ballots in the event that write-in votes are not allowed.  The Santorum campaign did not respond to TheDC’s inquiries about the Virginia election.

Late December polls indicated that Gingrich, had he been included on the ballot, might have been able to win in the delegate-rich Southern state.

In 2008 Romney, who had discontinued his candidacy five days earlier, received 4 percent of the Virginia primary vote.  Paul received 5 percent.

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