Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich firmly closed the door on a U.S. Senate run from Virginia in response to a draft campaign by a political action committee.
“Newt Gingrich is a new host of CNN’s ‘Crossfire.’ He is not running for U.S. Senate and will not run for Senate at any time in the future,” according to a statement issued on his behalf by Gingrich Productions, a company he runs with his wife, Callista. “For this reason, the Speaker encourages supporters to ignore solicitations from this new group.”
The response was posted swiftly after a staffer who worked on Mr. Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign launched a political action committee on Wednesday to galvanize support for a Senate run next year against Sen. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat.
“U.S. Sen. Newt Gingrich would be an immediate game-changer, giving conservatives another voice that would take the fight to the Obama administration,” said Andrew Hemingway, Mr. Gingrich’s 2012 state director in New Hampshire and national director of digital fundraising.
Mr. Warner, a popular former governor first elected to the Senate in 2008, has a 61 percent job approval rating with just 22 percent of voters disapproving, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
Mr. Gingrich, who represented Georgia in Congress from 1979 until 1999 and now lives in Virginia, didn’t even get on the ballot in his most recent venture into elective politics in the commonwealth.
Earlier this year, a Virginia man pleaded guilty to forging thousands of signatures on Mr. Gingrich’s petitions for the state’s 2012 GOP presidential primary, according to WVIR-TV in Charlottesville.
In December 2011, Adam Ward collected more than 11,000 signatures, according to prosecutors, but investigators could not verify more than 4,000 of them, the NBC affiliate reported.
Mr. Gingrich was one of several GOP presidential candidates who failed to amass the necessary 10,000 petition signatures and was part of an unsuccessful lawsuit to try to force their way onto the Virginia primary ballot.
At a campaign stop in Iowa in December 2011, Mr. Gingrich essentially admitted to the fraud, though his estimate differs from the number of signatures investigators said they could not verify.
“We hired somebody who turned in false signatures,” he said then. “We turned in 11,100 — we needed 10,000 — 1,500 of them were by one guy who, frankly, committed fraud.”