- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2015

Former Govs. George Pataki and James S. Gilmore III missed the filing deadlines to get on the primary ballots in Alabama and Arkansas, signaling their struggling campaigns may not make it very deep into next year.

But all 13 other major-name candidates did make Friday’s Alabama GOP deadline and the Arkansas secretary of state’s Monday deadline, assuring that the large and unwieldy field is here to stay, even as some of them have lost their positions on the main debate stage.

“Given that Pataki and Gilmore are not really major players for the nomination anyway, I think the story might be more about the fact that there are still so many candidates who, at least now, are filing for these races,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a project of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “The GOP field is in need of a winnowing, and it really isn’t happening yet.”

On the Democratic side, meanwhile, all three big-name candidates still in the race qualified for the ballots in Arkansas and Alabama. So did Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a businessman launching an outsider’s bid for the Democrats’ presidential nomination. Several other candidates qualified for one ballot or the other but not both.

Getting on ballots is complex, and the rules vary widely by state. That makes getting on the ballots a litmus test for candidates seeking to prove they have the manpower and money to compete, and failing to make it is an embarrassment.

It also means a candidate can’t win delegates in those states, making it that much tougher to win the nomination.

Missing the ballot is the latest bit of bad news for Mr. Pataki, who learned last week that his polling has sunk so low that he didn’t make either the main stage or even the undercard debate Tuesday. His campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Gilmore, meanwhile, has never polled well enough to make the debates, but has insisted he’s in the race to stay. He did file Monday for the primary ballot in New Hampshire — beating a deadline that is still more than a week away. He and Mr. Pataki have both also qualified for the primary ballot in South Carolina, whose deadline was in September and required a $40,000 filing fee.

In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Gilmore’s senior political adviser, Boyd Marcus, said they are focusing on New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia and Florida.

“Governor Gilmore has filed in New Hampshire and South Carolina already and will be filing in a number of others in the next 2 months,” he said in a statement. “Our campaign is concentrating on places where we believe our message and organizational activities have the ability to produce the most votes and delegates. Our campaign will compete all the way to the convention.”

Sen. Rand Paul, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Sen. Rick Santorum got in just under the deadline Monday in Arkansas.

Other candidates, though, file as early as they can, and use it as a way to convince donors their campaign is serious.

That’s the case with Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon and political neophyte who’s built a strong organization that has already registered in Alaska, whose filing deadline isn’t until the end of January, and even in Washington, D.C., where Mr. Carson filed for the ballot more than a month ago.

“Our campaign intends to compete in all 50 states,” Mr. Carson said in a statement announcing his signup.

Virginia, whose deadline is Dec. 10, has some of the toughest rules, requiring candidates to submit 5,000 valid signatures overall, including 200 from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. The National Journal reported that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham; and Ted Cruz, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, Mr. Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich all dispatched volunteers to polling places in Virginia during last week’s election to collect signatures.

Businessman Donald Trump, meanwhile, has already submitted 15,000 signatures in Virginia, or three times the total needed.

The Republicans are hoping to avoid a repeat of 2012, when only two candidates submitted enough signatures to qualify — eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney and then-Rep. Ron Paul, father of Rand Paul, who is running in this year’s race.

In New Hampshire, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton filed her paperwork on Monday — and managed to anger the state GOP after her security detail forced Secretary of State Bill Gardner to go through a metal detector to enter his own office.

“Secretary Clinton’s treatment of Secretary Gardner is embarrassing and is the latest example of the arrogant campaign that she is running in New Hampshire,” New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn said, demanding an apology be issued to Mr. Gardner.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond.

The New Hampshire GOP noted that Mr. Gardner did not undergo a physical search when Mrs. Clinton filed for her husband, former President Clinton, in 1991 and 1995, nor did he get searched when Mrs. Clinton filed for herself in 2007.

Mrs. Clinton was the ninth Democrat to file in New Hampshire. Sen. Bernard Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, the other two top candidates, filed last week.

On the GOP side, Mr. Trump was the first to file last week, with Mr. Rubio, Mrs. Fiorina, Mr. Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also filing.

S.A. Miller contributed to this article.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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