The presidential campaigns of Rep. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman have all signed onto an effort begun by Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenging their disqualification from the Virginia presidential primary ballot.
The state Republican Party ruled last week that only former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) had qualified for the March 6 vote by collecting the required 10,000 signatures.
Perry’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, contends that the state Republican chairman and members of the State Board of Elections violated Perry’s constitutional rights by enforcing state requirements for the gathering of signatures.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) also said Saturday that he would take steps to make sure that more GOP candidates appear on the primary ballot, but he did not say how he would do so.
Perry’s suit maintains that he was unable to submit the required number of signatures because of the board’s “requirement that all petition circulators be an eligible or registered qualified voter in Virginia.”
That requirement substantially limits the number of people who could circulate petitions and thus “imposes a severe burden” on Perry’s freedoms of speech and association, the lawsuit argued. It cites the Constitution’s First and 14th amendments.
Lawyers for Bachmann (R-Minn.), Huntsman, Gingrich and Santorum sent a letter to the Virginia State Board of Elections Saturday informing the board that they will be filing a joint motion too. The campaigns asked the state board either to go ahead and add them to the state ballot or to take no action until a judge has had a chance to consider the case on Jan. 13.
Virginia’s primary is March 6.
Perry’s campaign had told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures. The lawsuit asks the court to order the board and party officials to certify Perry for the ballot.