Newt Gingrich is surging in the presidential polls, but his campaign organization has not caught up — making it possible he’ll miss Wednesday’s deadline to file enough signatures to even appear on Ohio’s primary ballot.
Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker whose once-moribund presidential campaign has been resurrected in the polls in recent weeks, already missed the deadline for Missouri’s ballot. With several other state deadlines looming this month, his campaign is showing growing pains as it strives to meet them.
He may get a do-over in Ohio, however. The law currently calls for a 4 p.m. Wednesday filing deadline, which he and other candidates were scrambling to meet. But a new law that takes effect Jan. 20 would move the state’s primary back to June and would reset the filing deadline to March 14.
“Because there’s been some uncertainty with the primaries, our office advised all candidates to file by today,” said Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
As of Tuesday, the Gingrich campaign was still scrambling to try to meet the Wednesday deadline, and a Gingrich organizer had sent out a desperate email Friday, urging Republicans to sign petitions and underscoring the urgency with the words: “I NEED TO KNOW BY MIDNIGHT.”
“We are going to give it our damnedest. We are going to do everything in our capacity to meet this deadline,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hommand said of the Ohio deadline. “As far as the next deadline, we’re on pace for everything else.”
Mr. Gingrich said this week that he intentionally missed the Missouri deadline for getting his name on that state’s primary ballot. He said the Feb. 7 primary is nonbinding, but he promised to participate in caucuses there a month later, where the state’s delegates to the nominating convention will be picked.
Mr. Gingrich also turned in a messy, handwritten form for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary and filled in only seven of the alternate-delegate slots — a distinction that is unlikely to have much impact because candidates rarely have to rely on alternates.
The stretched Gingrich team has notched some successes, though, meeting Tuesday’s deadline in Tennessee, and filing in Oklahoma ahead of that state’s Wednesday deadline, according to local news reports.
Prominent Gingrich supporters groused about the process — the layers of ballot-access hurdles that presidential candidates must overcome.
“We’ve made it far too complicated for any human being to run for office,” said former Rep. Bob Livingston of Louisiana, who served in Congress under Mr. Gingrich and supports the former House speaker.
“I don’t like those restriction and regulations,” Mr. Livingston added. “You shouldn’t have to have a battery of accountants and lawyers in every single state to run for president.”
Mr. Gingrich’s critics say a focus on the big picture at the expense of details is typical for the Georgia Republican.
“Newt said he was running a fly-by-night operation, which fits in perfectly with his operation,” said GOP strategist John Feehery, who worked for Mr. Gingrich’s successor, J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois. “Fly-by-night operations rarely work in presidential campaigns.”
Mr. Feehery was referring to a comment Mr. Gingrich made earlier this week when he said of his campaign, “We certainly fly by the seat of the pants.”