- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2011

Four Republican presidential candidates — including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — managed to file petitions to qualify for the GOP primary ballot in Virginia ahead of a 5 p.m. Thursday deadline.

Along with Mr. Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas were able to get signatures to the State Board of Elections in time to qualify for the primary, which will be held on March 6.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania failed to turn in the necessary signatures by the deadline and won’t be competing for the Old Dominion’s delegates to the nominating convention.

Virginia’s stringent standards require candidates to amass at least 10,000 signatures of registered voters statewide and at least 400 from each congressional district to qualify for the ballot.

Candidates who submit at least 15,000 signatures and at least 600 from each congressional district will be certified for the ballot, provided they meet other requirements of state law. Candidates who submit less than that will have their signatures verified by the Republican Party of Virginia, which has until Dec. 27 to certify the candidates.

The petitions were delivered to RPV headquarters, and counting is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Friday, according to the party.

Mr. Gingrich, the only candidate who resides in the state, counting McLean as his home, held a rally Wednesday evening in Arlington and attended a party fundraiser Thursday morning in Richmond to rally support to amass the necessary signatures.

Mr. Paul turned in 14,361 signatures, Mr. Perry turned in 11,911 and Mr. Gingrich had 11,050.

Volunteers collected and filed more than 15,000 petitions earlier this month to get President Obama’s name on the ballot, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Mr. Romney’s Virginia campaign chairman, personally delivered the former Massachusetts governor’s 16,026 signatures to the State Board of Elections on Tuesday.

“As I’ve said many times, this process is not about nominating a candidate, it’s about electing a president, and mission No. 1 is to defeat President Obama in November 2012,” said Mr. Bolling. “To do that, you have to nominate a candidate who is actually capable of defeating President Obama … as people really start focusing on the seriousness of the choice, I think Governor Romney will continue to do better and better.”

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