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Perry fails to qualify for Va. ballot

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Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Friday evening.

Perry’s campaign told state election officials that 11,911 signatures were provided, but a Republican familiar with the situation said that the Texas governor did not submit the required 10,000.

Earlier Friday, the Republican Party of Virginia certified former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) to appear on the March ballot.

Four candidates — Romney, Perry, Paul and former House speaker Newt Gingrich — turned in thousands of signatures by the deadline Thursday.

State party officials were spending Friday certifying the signatures. They expected to examine Gingrich’s signatures by late Friday night. His campaign said it submitted 11,050 signatures.

Jerry Kilgore, former state attorney general and chairman of Perry’s campaign in Virginia, said Friday night that he was disappointed that the candidate didn’t reach the required number of signatures. But, he said, qualifying for the Virginia ballot is a “daunting task.”

“Hopefully he will do better in other states,” he said. “He can focus on other states.”

Candidates had until 5 p.m. to collect 10,000 signatures from across the state, including 400 from each of the 11 congressional districts.

Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum did not submit signatures and failed to qualify on Thursday, according to state GOP officials.

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

On Tuesday, Romney became the first Republican presidential candidate to submit signatures for Virginia’s primary election ballot.

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. The Quinnipiac University poll shows Gingrich at 30 percent and Romney at 25 percent.

President Obama was the first presidential candidate to submit his signatures Dec. 2.

The Democratic Party of Virginia certified his signatures Friday. He was the only Democrat to qualify for the ballot, so the State Board of Elections will cancel the primary. All the votes of Virginia delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be cast for him, said Brian J. Moran, party chairman.

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