- The Washington Times - Monday, November 2, 2015

Hoping to avoid the pratfalls of several 2012 GOP presidential candidates, 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump announced Monday that he has turned in 15,000 petition signatures in order to qualify for the Virginia presidential primary ballot.

“I greatly appreciate the incredible support we have received from the people in the state of Virginia,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “We have tremendous crowds and enthusiasm and it will be a great honor to be on the ballot in this important state.

“We are building an excellent team of staff and volunteers in Virginia who are excited about my vision to Make America Great Again!” he said.

In the last presidential cycle, a federal judge denied a last-ditch bid from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to get on the state ballot after the candidates failed to turn in the required number of signatures.

Former Massachusetts Gov. and eventual 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney ended up defeating former Texas Rep. Ron Paul in a head-to-head matchup in the GOP primary in the state in March 2012. Mr. Romney got about 60 percent of the vote and Mr. Paul got approximately 40 percent.

Last time around, presidential candidates had been required to amass 10,000 signatures statewide, including 400 in each of the state’s 11 congressional districts.

With the embarrassing 2012 episode in mind, the requirements were later halved so that 5,000 total signatures from qualified voters in the state and 200 from each district would be required.

The state recommends turning in a total of between 7,500 and 10,000 signatures, including at least 300 from every congressional district, to account for people who sign the forms but aren’t registered to vote.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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