Bachmann, Huntsman, Santorum fail to qualify for Virginia primary ballot

Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Rick Santorum did not qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Thursday.

Four candidates — former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) — turned in thousands of signatures by the deadline.

Candidates had until 5 p.m. Thursday to collect 10,000 signatures from across the state, including 400 from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts. Bachmann, Huntsman and Santorum did not submit any signatures.

Virginia, an increasingly important swing state, will hold its primary on Super Tuesday, which is March 6.

The signatures still must be certified by the Republican Party of Virginia. Garren Shipley, a party spokesman, said he expects that process to be completed by Friday.

Romney was the first Republican presidential candidate to submit signatures for Virginia’s primary election ballot, delivering his on Tuesday.

On Thursday morning, Gingrich said at an event outside Richmond that his campaign was still collecting signatures, but expected to have enough.

A poll released Wednesday showed Gingrich with a slight lead over Romney among Virginia Republicans in the race for president. The Quinnipiac University poll shows Gingrich at 30 percent and Romney at 25 percent among Republican voters.

President Obama was the first candidate to submit his signatures, which were delivered Dec. 2. The Democratic Party of Virginia expects to finish certifying Obama’s signatures by 5 p.m. Friday.

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