Virginia Argues Perry Has No Basis to Challenge Ballot Exclusion

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry
Rick Perry, Texas governor and Republican candidate for president, leaves a campaign stop at Adams Street Espresso in Creston, Iowa. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Rick Perry’s presidential campaign lacks any legal basis for seeking a court order to stop Virginia from distributing primary election ballots without his name on them, lawyers for the state said in court papers.

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli yesterday asked a federal judge in Richmond to dismiss the Texas governor’s bid to have his name added to the ballot for the March 6 Republican presidential primary after the governor failed to collect the 10,000 signatures required by state rules.

Perry “lacks standing to assert an injury arising from the inability to circulate his own petitions because there is no averment that he stood ready, willing and able to circulate his own petitions and there is no basis for concluding that he would have collected a sufficient number of valid signatures,” the state said.

Perry last week sought a temporary order to halt state officials from printing the ballots, or to require them to include his name. In a lawsuit filed Dec. 27 in federal court in Richmond, Perry claimed the state’s requirement that people who circulate petitions be eligible or registered to vote in Virginia violates his constitutional rights.

‘State’s Interest’

“The fact is that there can be no state’s interests protected in preventing a candidate for president of the United States from standing in a public square and asking Virginian voters for their signatures on a petition,” Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for the Perry campaign, said in an e-mail. “Similarly, there is no legitimate state’s interest being protected in requiring he unusually high hurdle of 10,000 signatures.”

U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. in Richmond said Dec. 29 that he wouldn’t stop the printing before the next hearing in the case, scheduled for Jan. 13. He didn’t rule on the merits of Perry’s challenge.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas are the only Republicans to make it onto the ballot for Virginia’s primary on so-called Super Tuesday, the Republican Party of Virginia said last month.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also failed to get the required signatures from registered voters. Gingrich said last week that someone hired to collect signatures provided false ones.

Gibney set a deadline of Jan. 6 for the other Republican presidential candidates to intervene in the case.

Perry, in a filing yesterday, said he plans to call three witnesses to testify at the Jan. 13 hearing. They include Jerry Kilgore, a former Virginia Attorney General and the Virginia chairman of the Perry campaign; Joe Allbaugh, a former George W. Bush administration official who is now senior adviser to the Perry campaign; and Neal Blair, a lawyer who coordinated Perry’s efforts to get on the ballot in Virginia.

The case is Perry v. Judd, 3:11-cv-00856, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).

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