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01 January 2012

Repudiation: Ken Cuccinelli to Change Primary Rules

When one thinks of Republican ideals, these supposedly include concepts like following the rules and law and order.  In reality, it means changing the rules to suit Republican ideals, even when doing so violates other supposedly Republican ideals (like limiting the availability of health care for women in the name of stopping abortions).

The latest is an effort by Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli to change the rules of the election primary in his state.  Under the status quo, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney qualified for the Republican primary, but none of Mr. Cuccinelli's preferred social conservatives made the cut.  Fox News has the story.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is intervening in his state's presidential primary dispute and plans to file emergency legislation to address the inability of most Republican presidential candidates to get their name on the ballot, Fox News has learned. 
Meanwhile, four GOP candidates on Saturday joined fellow candidate Rick Perry's lawsuit against the state, urging the Board of Elections to either allow them on the ballot or at least refrain from taking any action until a Jan. 13 court hearing.
The extant rules require ten thousand valid signatures, with at least four hundred from each of Virginia's eleven Congressional districts, to be included in the presidential primary election.  That is a more stringent requirement than any other state, but it is the rule.  Further, despite Newt Gingrich claiming that he would be a write-in candidate, Virginia statutes prohibit write-in candidates for the primary.

This is not, or should not be, a surprise to anyone.  The rules are not new.  The criteria for inclusion is deliberate and is part of an important winnowing process intended to have a definitive candidate before the party conventions, thus avoiding a brokered convention.  But the A.G. has a problem with neither Dr. Paul nor Mr. Romney being true social conservatives.
Cuccinelli, who is a Republican, shared the concerns and plans to take them to the legislature while the candidates work through the courts. 
"Recent events have underscored that our system is deficient," he said in a statement Saturday. "Virginia owes her citizens a better process. We can do it in time for the March primary if we resolve to do so quickly."
Cuccinelli's proposal is expected to state that if the Virginia Board of Elections certifies that a candidate is receiving federal matching funds, or has qualified to receive them, that candidate will upon request be automatically added to the ballot.
Mr. Cuccinelli wants to change the rules mid-cycle so that candidates who are social conservatives like himself can be included.  Such a change would not be fair to the two candidates who followed the rules and qualified.  But fairness and Mr. Cuccinelli may not be close acquaintances.  Oddly, I find myself in agreement with the Virginia Republican Party.
The Virginia Republican offered a robust defense of the existing rules, saying candidates had plenty of notice and were urged to collect 15,000 signatures just to be safe. 
"The rule was no surprise to any candidate -- and indeed, no candidate or campaign offered any complaints until after the Dec. 23 validation process had concluded," the party said. "The party will discuss the specific nature of their shortfalls if necessary. But the failure of (Perry and Gingrich) to meet the state requirements does not call into question the accuracy of the Party's certification of the two candidates who are duly qualified to appear on the ballot."

13 January 2012, FollowUp 1.

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