Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Republicans take some of the fun out of 2012

 The fact that Newt Gingrich is leading the polls in the Virginia Republican Primary but didn't gather enough signatures to get on the ballot sort of sums up his presidential campaign so far in a nutshell.

But Gingrich wasn't the only candidate who failed to make the ballot. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose campaign thus far had seemed to be deficient in brainpower, charisma and debating skills, but not in money or organizational expertise, also failed to turn in enough signatures to qualify.

Michele Bachmann, John Huntsman and Rick Santorum didn't bother to turn in any signatures. Not much of a surprise for the latter two. They've just been hanging around. Neither has gotten a bump as the Republican's "flavor of the month" to be the Not-Mitt Romney candidate. Hell, even Donald Trump got a bump and he never got in.

In fact, only Romney and septuagenarian Libertarian Ron Paul made the ballot. The first is the definition of the smooth, well organized, Establishment Republican. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling heads his campaign in Virginia and there wasn't much chance he wouldn't get the necessary signatures. The second is a cult figure who has never won much besides straw polls, but his Paulistas can managed a signature gathering campaign.

While Gingrich and, to a lesser extent, Perry and Bachmann have been whining about how tough Virginia's ballot access laws are -- they require 10,000 signatures, including 400 from each of the state's 11 congressional districts -- the fact is everyone knew what the rules were from the jump.

And how hard can it be? In 2008 Democratic candidates like Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, neither of whom were exactly at the crest of a rising tide, made it onto Virginia's ballot.

They had help though. The Democratic Party of Virginia gathered signatures for all of the candidates at various events. The Republican Party of Virginia didn't make that kind of effort this year. They aren't required to, of course, but it might have helped.

Republican incompetency has taken a good deal of fun out of what could have been a very exciting year in politics here.

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