Virginia AG: On second thought, maybe we shouldn’t change the rules in the middle of the election

posted at 7:20 pm on January 1, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli injected himself into the controversy over the failure of several Republican candidates to access the presidential primary ballot.  Cuccinelli planned to petition the state legislature to change the rules to allow anyone who qualifies for federal matching funds to get listed on the March 6th ballot.  Today, it seems that Cuccinelli has had a change of heart, according to a statement released less than an hour ago and e-mailed to us from his office:

Statement from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on changing Virginia’s ballot access law for the March primary:

“I obviously feel very strongly that Virginia needs to change its ballot access requirements for our statewide elections. However, after working through different scenarios with Republican and Democratic leaders to attempt to make changes in time for the 2012 Presidential election, my concern grows that we cannot find a way to make such changes fair to the Romney and Paul campaigns that qualified even with Virginia’s burdensome system. A further critical factor that I must consider is that changing the rules midstream is inconsistent with respecting and preserving the rule of law – something I am particularly sensitive to as Virginia’s attorney general.

“My intentions have never focused on which candidates would be benefited or harmed, rather I have focused on what is best for Virginia’s citizens, as hundreds of thousands of Virginians who should have been able to make their choices among the full field of presidential primary contenders have had their number of choices reduced significantly.

“My primary responsibility is to the people of Virginia, and how best to fulfill that responsibility in these particular circumstances has been a very difficult question for me. I believe consistency on the part of public officials is an important attribute. And I believe that Virginians are best served by an attorney general who consistently supports the rule of law. That leads to my conclusion that while I will vigorously support efforts to reduce the hurdles to ballot access in Virginia for all candidates, I will not support efforts to apply such changes to the 2012 Presidential election.

“I do not change position on issues of public policy often or lightly.  But when convinced that my position is wrong, I think it necessary to concede as much and adjust accordingly.”

 I’m trying to verify this (I got copies on two of my professional accounts and the header has the right return address), but assuming this is legitimate, it makes a lot of sense.   There has been a bipartisan consensus in Virginia that the ballot access rules have grown too tight, and the legislature will definitely want to revisit the regulations.  However, two of the campaigns managed to make it through the qualification process without too much trouble, and they spent a lot of money and resources on doing so.  Changing the regulations now to benefit campaigns that didn’t would create a whole new set of legal headaches for Virginia, and would create a new issue of fairness.

Of course, all this was true yesterday, too.  Why did Cuccinelli jump the gun without considering the implications of a mid-race rules change?  It sounds like Cuccinelli may have misinterpreted the bipartisan desire to review and adjust these regulations for a demand to get Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman onto the March 6th ballot by any means necessary.  Those candidates who may have felt vindicated by Cuccinelli’s statement yesterday are now back to square one.

Update: I’ve exchanged e-mails with Cuccinelli’s media contact, and this is legitimate.  Just to be clear, I think this is the right decision, and it’s more important to get this right, as it always is when enforcing the law.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 5 6 7

I don’t like ballot shenanigans.

Waving through invalid Romney signatures while flagging invalid Perry and Gingrich signatures (and yes, some of Romney’s signatures ARE invalid, unless his Magic Underwear is reeally powerful), is the essence of ballot shenanigans.

Put it this way – would this fly at the local high-school, to get on the ballot for student-body president? I don’t think it would.

cane_loader on January 2, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Strikes me that the establishment Republicans got to Mr. A.G!?!

Colatteral Damage on January 2, 2012 at 2:06 PM

You are the one who personalized it on gryphon202, and on me. Kept questioning our motives and saying we were debating it out of allegiance, when we both were arguing math.

You started it, and so I don’t appreciate it when you accuse US of it.

cane_loader on January 2, 2012 at 1:39 PM

You and he keep harping on Romney’s 17,000 ballots should be checked – well, the only way he wouldn’t have 10,000 valid signatures is through massive fraud. If there is evidence of fraud, present it, because the people involved need to be prosecuted and jailed.

Even if there was fraud, that doesn’t give Rick or Newt a mulligan to get on the ballot, it means Romney gets to be removed. No matter how you slice it, those individuals who didn’t make the ballot, didn’t make the ballot. That is entirely their fault, and the fault of their supporters. All they needed was for 500 volunteers to gather 30 signatures each, a pretty low bar for a national office.

Not one of the people here complaining about it, handed in a single signature on a ballot petition, or even signed someone else’s. That right there tells the tale. If you support a candidate – get off your ass and work for them.

Rebar on January 2, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Well said, Rebar. The requirements instituted in November apparently were announced in March 2011 – nearly 1 year before the primary is to be held. The campaigns were notified of the changes.

Not one candidate who filed and paid the fees to get on the ballot (4 in all) complained about these changes when they were announced or instituted.

Sour grapes from campaigns that don’t have the organization or money to compete. Learn from this blunder.

Philly on January 2, 2012 at 2:38 PM

What a disgrace! This makes me ashamed to be a republican – that we have all these wonderful candidates and they’re not allowed to be on the Virginia primaray ballot because of “technicalities”!?! What is that?!?! If we can’t offer people the best for what is an important presidential election and intead end up with what’s manipulate through – the best that money can buy, then we’re no better than democrats. Cuccinelli is a disgrace and the Virginia republican party should be ashamed of themselves. Fix it now!

mozalf on January 2, 2012 at 3:36 PM

mozalf on January 2, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Meeting the ballot law requirements is not a “technicality”.

Rebar on January 2, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Well said, Rebar. The requirements instituted in November apparently were announced in March 2011 – nearly 1 year before the primary is to be held. The campaigns were notified of the changes.

Not one candidate who filed and paid the fees to get on the ballot (4 in all) complained about these changes when they were announced or instituted.

Sour grapes from campaigns that don’t have the organization or money to compete. Learn from this blunder.

Philly on January 2, 2012 at 2:38 PM

The lawsuit that caused the Nov 2011 changes was in Oct 2011.

ZGMF_Freedom on January 2, 2012 at 5:59 PM

You all have a very bad habit of projecting. Unlike Palinists who elevate their candidate to the level of a Goddess or Saint, I do not view Romney as anything more than an exceedingly decent, competent and hard-working mortal with a wonderful family, superb leadership skills and a stellar resume.

Buy Danish on January 2, 2012 at 9:18 AM

In other words, a demigod. You see, I don’t worship Palin to the extent that I feel compelled to b1tch about Romney’s every split infinitive or other grammatical errors. Or what he wears or the tone of his voice. That’s been the job of the nastier among the Mittbots, both covert and overt.

Gryphon, among many, many others, has reminded me quite well why I’m now a conservative-leaning independent, instead of what I used to be, a conservative Republican.

Just way too many hardline “true conservatives” all aboard the crazy train.

Are you kidding? The GOP is filled to the gills with people like you, which is why I’m an independent. The sooner that bastion of feckless moderation is dynamited, the better.

I’m terribly sorry, folks. I’m sorry that Mitt Romney is coming along and taking the nomination. I’m sorry that all of your chosen messiahs either didn’t run (Palin), prove to be lunatics (Bachmann) or imperfect and flawed (Cain) or have disappointed (Perry), but the reality is what it is. Now go ahead and keep acting as if Mitt is somehow only a slightly less awful version of Obama.

Vyce on January 2, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Sounds like an O-bot telling Hillary to have the decency to step aside back in 2008. But yeah, Romney’s on his way to his foreordained coronation. As the nominee, that is. That’s just about where it will stop.

ddrintn on January 2, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Whoah, the Perry supporters are still whining in this thread about their guy failing to meet the minimum requirements to get on the ballot? Sad.

bluegill on January 2, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Ron Paul? Are you kiddin’ me? He’s NO Conservative.

kingsjester on January 2, 2012 at 7:59 AM

Neither is rObamney, but we’ll probably be stuck with him in the general. I don’t like any of them, I’ll be voting against the Dems, as per usual.

S. D. on January 2, 2012 at 8:43 PM

You and he keep harping on Romney’s 17,000 ballots should be checked – well, the only way he wouldn’t have 10,000 valid signatures is through massive fraud. If there is evidence of fraud, present it, because the people involved need to be prosecuted and jailed.

[snip]

Rebar on January 2, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Not trying to be offensive, but I’m starting to think that you’re not very good at math. If you don’t understand math, arguing this with you is pointless.

As I already explained upthread, if Romney had a failure rate the same as Perry, then Romney would be disqualified from the ballot too.

But Romney’s signatures aren’t being checked. Now you say that they only way Romney could fall short is through massive fraud. Maybe Romney had the same disqualification rate as Perry. If so, then Perry committed fraud, according to your rules. Did Romney commit fraud, too?

To make this simpler for you to understand, what you just falsely assumed is that the two candidates had different disqualification rates. You have exactly zero evidence to present for that, and, indeed, can’t present any evidence, because Romney’s disqualification rate was never actually determined, because his signatures weren’t vetted the same as Perry’s

Not that I should have to point this out to you, but you dorealize, don’t you, that, despite not having one scrap of evidence that Romney had a different DQ rate, you just accused Perry of “massive fraud,” at a same DQ rate that would disqualify Romney?

cane_loader on January 3, 2012 at 9:41 AM

This doesn’t pass the smell test for me. I’m not convinced that everyone but Mitt Romney and Ron Paul just happened to be savvy enough to make it on the ballot. That being the case, I’d be happy to know that Romney has 10,000 valid signatures as per VA law — which he has not produced.

gryphon202 on January 3, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Comment pages: 1 5 6 7