The 2012 GOP Nomination is Over?

Since Rick Santorum’s sudden and frankly rather unexpected departure from the Republican presidential nomination, pundits seems to be scrambling to claim that the process is now over; Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee.  However, for the Republican nomination to be truly over, at least one of three things must happen:  Either one candidate accumulates the required number of delegates so that it is mathematically impossible for any other candidate to claim victory, every other candidate seeking the nomination must withdraw, or a vast majority of voters are convinced that one candidate has already won.

Given that there are 2,286 delegates at stake in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, that figure means that one candidate must accumulate 50% plus one in order to become the nominee, or 1144 delegates.  So have any of the candidates reached this magic number?  Although estimates vary given that some primaries and caucus were mere beauty contests and did not actually award delegates, Mitt Romney is the closest.  As of April 6th, the RNC had Romney’s pledged delegate at 573.  However, some more up to dates sources have him at 656, a little over half of what he needs to seal the deal.  Yes, either way Romney has a greater number of delegates than any other candidate, but remains well shy of the mark.  So, the answer to the first point is no.  No candidate has an outright majority of delegates.

What about the second point?  Although the process has eliminated a large number of contenders such as Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Gary Johnson, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain, and, most recently, Rick Santorum, there are still three candidates seeking the Republican nomination.  Besides Mitt Romney, there is also Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich.  Although Romney is leading by a healthy margin, he is not the only choice left.  Therefore, the answer to the second point is no as well.

So what about the third point then?  Ah, here is where media outlets and establishment Republicans shine.  Each have been making and continue to make the point that with Rick Santorum’s departure from the race, Mitt Romney has such a lead as to make the rest of the primaries, caucuses, and even the Republican convention itself to be a waste of time.  To these people it is irrelevant that over half of the delegates have not been awarded.  Given that neither point one or point two is satisfied, they seek to subvert the will of the folks in states that have not voted.

The 2012 Republican presidential primaries as of April 12th. Graphic by Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia.

Are there many grey-colored states left where people have not voted?  Well, guess what New York voters?  You don’t matter!  Neither do voters in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and any other state who has not yet apportioned their delegates.  It doesn’t matter voters in these states could affect the outcome of this race, if enough people are told and believe that their voice is irrelevant, then it truly becomes irrelevant.  After all, if someone believes that his or her vote will not make any difference, how many people would waste his or her time to go to the polls?

Yes, it is undeniable that Mitt Romney has a significant lead in delegates over both Gingrich and Paul.  But the simple fact is that, at this point, he still has competition and he does not have enough delegates to claim the title of Republican nominee.  To claim otherwise is wishful thinking at best, and an outright lie at worst.

Many Republicans want the nomination process to be over so that Republicans of all stripes will stop attacking examining and criticizing the GOP candidates and rally behind the banner of stopping Obama at all costs.  However, calling the process before it is truly over, as many news outlets and pundits are attempting to do, will likely create feeling of disenfranchisement and crack open greater fissures in the Republican base.  After all, if a Gingrich or Paul supporter thought the system rigged or that his or her candidate were cheated through early disqualification, that belief might cause scores of typical Republican voters to abandon the Republican nominee.  Therefore, the end result of such tampering could be four more years of President Barack Obama.  How many Republicans could claim that they desire such an outcome?

Santorum’s Party

Photo by Charles Dharapak of the Associated Press

As the 2012 Republican Presidential race continues, in a move that would certainly be a monumental surprise a year ago, former Senator Rick Santorum has positioned himself as the leading alternative to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.   It is likely that quite of few readers of this article prefer Rick Santorum.  As Mike Huckabee did in 2008, Santorum polls highly among those describing themselves as conservative, especially Christian conservatives, and has done quite well in the both the South and the Midwest.

Is Rick Santorum a conservative?  There is no doubt that he is socially conservative.  But, does he embrace the ideals of Madison and Jefferson who called for a limited federal government bound to the principles of constitutional restraint?  Does he believe, like Barry Goldwater, that Republicans ought to fight against big government programs, such as FDR’s New Deal, that expanded the role of Washington bureaucrats far beyond what Americans had previously known?  Unfortunately for conservatives, as Rick Santorum stated in the following interview from 2008, the answer is no.

Interestingly, Rick Santorum has picked up considerable support among tea party members as well.  Keep in mind, that the core aim of the tea party, at least in this area, is a return to the Constitution, restraining the federal government to its authorized functions, and opposition to the spiraling debt and massive spending.  As the previous video indicated, Rick Santorum isn’t particularly favorable to this mindset.

So how does Rick Santorum view the tea party?  Since his speech in 2008, has he changed his views and embraced the ideals of limited government conservatism?  Well, in June 2011, he answered that question.

Now that he is officially running for president, Santorum has changed his tune, reaching out to unaware tea party voters even through his policy positions remain relatively unchanged since his time in the U.S. Senate.  Given Rick Santorum’s troubling, although fairly consistent, stance opposing the conservative ideal of a small, fiscally responsible central government, opposing the branch of the Republican Party who advocates these ideals, and opposing the tea party movement, one does have to wonder why any self-described conservative or tea party member would support his candidacy for President.  The only reasonable answer is that they do so solely based upon the idea that he has strong moral and religious principles.  Although then the question becomes, should we support someone for a political office based on his or her religious beliefs alone?

Do we believe a person who labels him or herself a Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, or any multitude of faiths or someone with no faith at all is or ought to be the defining characteristic which makes a person suitable for elected office?  And, if so, like the nation of Iran, should our country be ruled by a theocracy?  Assuming that either the GOP or the government follows down this theocratic path, will we still enjoy the long standing freedom to criticize our leaders or their policies when their principles run counter to our own?  When fascism comes to this country will it, like we have been warned, be wrapped in a flag carrying a cross?

Of course, anyone is free to support any candidate for any reason, however, it is useful to know where that candidate stands.  Rick Santorum, by his own admission, is not friendly to either limited-government conservatism or the tea party movement.  Therefore, it is particularly puzzling why some of these very same people should accept him as one of their own.  Following this line of thought, one must ask if he or she wants a Republican Party, a tea party, or a nation primarily ruled by Rick Santorum or someone who embraces his ideology?  It ought to be a fairly easy question to answer.

Chaos in St. Charles County

Yesterday, in Missouri, the citizens of St. Charles County held their countywide Republican caucus.  Typically, caucuses are rather straightforward affairs where the participants vote for their choice for candidate with a minimum of fuss.  However, the meeting of the St. Charles County Republican County quickly devolved into complete chaos.

It is difficult to gather a completely accurate scenario of the events that unfolded given that the chairman called for a ban of all recording devices.  However, given assorted bits and pieces found scattered about youtube, it becomes apparent that the temporary chairman of the gathering did not properly conduct the meeting in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order and may not have even been a legitimate authority figure during the proceedings.  Whether or not his decree to ban video from the event was valid or not, disallowing the media does make one wonder if the results reported from the caucus would have actually mirrored the actual votes taken.

However, I encourage you to watch and listen to the following videos that are available and reach your own conclusions.

This first video includes the announcement of the ban of recording devices.

The following audio recording captures the event collapse into chaos as the chairman refuses to recognize members of the audience requesting a point of order.

As mentioned in the beginning, one issue, in accordance to Robert’s Rules of Order, is that the first order of business in a mass meeting is nomination and election of a temporary chair of this meeting followed by the nomination and election of a temporary secretary.  Were these protocols followed before the pledge of allegiance, which is typically done prior to conducting official business?

Furthermore, according to Robert’s Rules of Order, “It is the duty of the chairman to enforce the rules and preserve order, and when any member notices a breach of order he can call for the enforcement of the rules.  In such cases, when he rises he usually says: ‘Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order.’ The chairman then directs the speaker to take his seat, and, having heard the point of order, decides the question and permits the first speaker to resume his speech…”  Furthermore, “while on all questions of order, and of interpretation of the rules, and of priority of business, it is the duty of the chairman to first decide the question, it is the privilege of any member to ‘appeal from the decision.’  If the appeal is seconded, the chairman states his decision, and that it has been appealed from, and then states the question thus: ‘Shall the decision of the chair stand as the judgment of the assembly [or society, convention, etc.]?’” When the first member calls for a “point of order” followed by a chorus of others, according to the rules, the chairman ought to have stopped the proceedings and recognized this motion instead of simply dismissing it.

Was the election of a chairman rigged?  Yes, one can clearly hear a multitude of calls to nominate Brent Stafford.  Given the noise, it is difficult to determine if Mr. Stafford was nominated properly in accordance with the rules, but it is certain that the chairman ought to have done several things.  1. Ask for a proper nomination for Brent Stafford if it was not already done.  2. Ask for nay votes for the first candidate.  3. Given the considerable opposition, the chairman should have called for division to make certain that the first candidate actually had a majority of support.   However, the chairman failed to do all of these important tasks.

In addition, toward the end of the recording, it is difficult to determine how many caucus-goers voted to adjourn as compared to how many wished to continue.  Was the meeting adjournment justifiable?

In the last recording, given that many people in the audience felt that the caucus was adjourned improperly, Brent Stafford and others attempted to continue the proceedings outside the building.  However, he could not do so as the police arrested him for trespassing.

So what the heck happened in St. Charles County?  As one caucus-goer suggested in the last video, did the straw poll taken at the door set the whole trouble in motion, as the party in power didn’t like the probable outcome?  Were the attendees unreasonable and too far out of control to conduct business?  Or was it simply the case of a chairman, defiant of protocol, assuming too much authority?  Regardless of the answer to any of these questions, the greatest concern of this whole matter ought to be that the citizens of St. Charles County may have been disenfranchised through this highly questionable process and thus might not be able to voice their opinion concerning the Republican nomination for president.

To learn more, you can read the thoughts of Brent Stafford, the man arrested in the last video, here.

Thanks to Jeremy for bringing this matter to my attention.

Paul’s Virginia Adventure

On March 6th, Virginia voters gave Ron Paul his highest percentage of any statewide total up to that point in the 2012 Republican nomination contest.  But you do have to wonder…could Paul have done better?  Could he have actually won the Old Dominion?

Waving At Traffic

As I mentioned on a recent article on, recently Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Ron Paul supporters have taken to the streets, waving pro-liberty, pro-Ron Paul signs on the outskirts of downtown Harrisonburg.  Although the weather has been chilly, I’ve spent time on the corner, publicly cheering on my candidate.  However, prior to these recent episodes, the last (and first) time I participated in a sign wave for Dr. Paul was shortly before South Carolina’s 2008 Republican presidential primary.

Back in October of 2007 when I joined the Ron Paul campaign in South Carolina, very early on fellow campaign staffers spoke against sign waving.  They informed me that Ron Paul supporters loved to do sign waves but that I should discourage these practices.  Now you might ask why they would think this way.  Well, although sign waving is certainly a visible way to let voters know that there are folks who ardently support Dr. Paul, it is a completely ineffective tool for identifying like-minded citizens.

Three of the most important functions of a political campaign are:  to educate voters about the candidate and his or her opponent, identify supporters, and then make sure that those supporters get out to vote for your candidate on election day.  Regrettably, sign waving does a rather poor job at accomplishing any of these tasks.  True, it does raise some visibility and name ID for a candidate, but you really can’t delve deeply into areas of specific policy disagreements on a simple piece of poster board.  Second, even when motorists honk in approval of a candidate, there is no feasible way to know who is driving that car and whether or not that person is even registered to vote.  Therefore, without any method to keep in contact with these supposed supporters, sign waving does not further the campaign aim of making sure that the Ron Paul people come out to vote.

Given that my position within the campaign was in grassroots organizing, the task of convincing volunteers to participate in more productive activities like phone calling and going door-to-door fell to me.  But, as you likely know, Ron Paul supporters are a very free-willed bunch of folks and quite a few bucked any kind of authority even when we supported the same cause.  Therefore, from time to time, South Carolina volunteers would spontaneously sign wave anyway.  Of course I never joined in.  After all, if an official member of the campaign staff spent his or her time sign waving, it would lend credence to the activity and prove that much more difficult to persuade them to engage in more beneficial endeavors in the future.

But, as I stated at the beginning of this article, I did participate in a sign wave several days before the January 19th primary.  But, Joshua, you might say, if sign waves aren’t very ineffective, why would you spend your time doing that sort of thing when you could have been more productive elsewhere?  The answer to that question is Iowa.

After the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd, staffers who previously worked in Iowa came to South Carolina to bolster our efforts.  Once they arrived, both the new and the old Carolina team gathered together to discuss the campaign.  During this meeting, one of the leaders in Iowa candidly stated that Ron Paul would not win South Carolina.  Believe it or not, this news did not come as any sort of shock.  After all, we had seen the earlier results from Iowa and New Hampshire; we had spoken to thousands of South Carolinians and knew that a majority of them would not support Paul.  However, openly declaring this unspoken taboo had a devastating impact on office morale.  What was the point of our many months of hard work if the prospect of our loss was so apparent and could be discussed so seemingly flippantly?

Within a day or two of this announcement, the Greenville South Carolina Ron Paul supporters once again suggested doing a sign wave.  This time, I not only offered no objection, another staffer and I actually joined in.  We shook our signs vigorously and yelled “Ron Paul!” to passing motorists.  Each time one would honk in approval, we would shout “what’s your phone number?” vocally illustrating the fact that the sign wave did nothing to accomplish those three necessary campaign tasks.

Fast forward to 2012.  Although I’m back in my home state this time, I am very disheartened with the apparent lack of effort on the part of the official campaign in Virginia.  I’ll admit that this feeling likely partially stems from the fact that this time I’m on the outside; I’m looking in.  But I’ve begged for supplies and voter information in order to craft some semblance of a traditional campaign here in the Valley and have been rebuffed.  You’d think that with only Paul and Romney on the ballot here, the national campaign would do whatever they can to win here.  But so far, that idea does not seem to be widely shared.  So with the traditional avenues of campaigning unavailable, what can we do to help Ron Paul?  Hello sign wave, my old friend and enemy.

In case you are wondering, I still don’t believe that sign waving is the best method to promote a candidate.  Nevertheless, I’m proud and honored to stand beside my brothers and sisters in liberty who enthusiastically brave the elements and volunteer their time, doing what they can to show our support for the best candidate, Dr. Ron Paul.  So when they organize this kind of event, why not join in for an hour or two?  We may win in Virginia; we may not.  Either way, we’ll be doing what we can to help with the meager supplies we have.

Therefore, in the coming weeks, if you drive through the streets of Harrisonburg and see a group of people cheering and holding signs for Dr. Paul, chances are you’ll find me among them, waving at traffic.

Disappointment in South Carolina

The 2008 Ron Paul Greenville, SC Office

As you likely know, former Speaker Newt Gingrich emerged as the winner of yesterday’s South Carolina Republican primary with a staggering 40.4%.  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney placed in a distant second with 27.8% followed by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at 17%.  In last place was Representative Ron Paul of Texas with 13%. Regardless how other pundits might try to spin this result, this news ought to come as a huge disappointment to my fellow Ron Paul supporters.

Looking at the results from the Huffington Post, you find that Mitt Romney won three of the counties while Gingrich picked up the rest.  Neither Santorum nor Paul managed to win a single one.  However, the news gets even grimmer.  With the exception of Abbeville County where he finished second, and neighboring Greenwood where he placed third, in every other county Ron Paul finished dead last.  Last!

Now, I understand the desire to try to paint as rosy a picture as possible for the Paul campaign.  For example, Jack Hunter’s Paulitical Ticker boldly reads, “Paul quadrupled his 2008 numbers after tripling them in New Hampshire and Iowa.”  Although that fact is certainly true, Paul’s numbers were much higher than they were four years ago, they were still worse than any of his three rivals.  Last I checked, there is no ribbon for the candidate who is “most improved.”  You either win delegates or you go home with nothing.  Unfortunately, Paul’ result in South Carolina is in the latter situation.

Let’s look at this matter in another light.  Today, four NFL teams are competing for two spots in the Superbowl.  At 6:30 PM, my New York Giants are taking on the San Francisco 49ers.  While the winning team will proceed onward into the possibility of glory, the loser will go home with nothing and will be a mere footnote in the history of the game, an otherwise impressive season quickly forgotten by a majority of fans and commentators.  Such a fate will befall the two Republican candidates who fail to claim mantle as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.  Even though delegates are awarded somewhat proportionally, winning comes first. For those casually watching the race, currently Santorum, Gingrich, and Romney have each won a state.  Isn’t John Q. Public wondering where is Paul’s state?  Doesn’t he need to win at least one?

Now, I’ll admit it.  Perhaps I hold the South Carolina result in too high a regard for two reasons.  First, four years ago, I campaigned vigorously in that very state on behalf of the Paul campaign.  Second, and far more importantly, since 1980 every GOP candidate who has won the nomination also has also won South Carolina.  It is historically a far better predictor than either the Iowa or New Hampshire contests that preceded it.

Looking to my time in South Carolina, I was quite impressed by the spirit of optimism and hard work displayed among the volunteers.  I was hopeful that the seeds sown four years ago, properly nurtured, would blossom into at least a third place finish this year.  But I haven’t been back there since then so it has been difficult to gauge how the tree of liberty has either flourished or withered.

Moving on, in Florida’s upcoming Republican primary, the Paul campaign has announced that they will not compete.  Although I’d certainly like to see Paul be competitive everywhere, I can understand this decision.  Funds must be spent wisely and as Florida is choosing to defy RNC rules by making their primary as winner-take-all, there is no victory for anyone other than the first place candidate, a monumental task.

Getting back to the situation in South Carolina, Mr. Hunter also writes, “Ron Paul campaigned in South Carolina for a grand total of four days.”  I guess that this point is meant to downplay the South Carolina result, reminding us that he did exceedingly well given the very little effort put forth.  Or perhaps that he knew South Carolina was a lost cause.  Either way, one does wonder if even these scant four days in South Carolina could have been better used to bolster the future result someplace else.  Then again, I’ll freely admit that it is far easier to be an armchair campaigner than someone deep in the thick of it.

The bottom line is that Paul needs a strong showing and he needs one soon if he wishes to remain competitive.  As already mentioned, he almost certainly won’t find this critical boost in Florida.  Therefore, that leaves a handful of states before the all-important Super Tuesday.  Spin it how you like, but I believe that the dead last loss in South Carolina is a heavy blow.  I remain hopeful but concerned.

The Governor Against the Oath

VC Note:  Earlier this morning, I wrote that Lt. Governor released a statement against the loyalty oath for Virginia’s March 6th 2012 Presidential Primary.  For the record, the oath states that by voting in Virginia’s Republican primary, you are pledging to vote for the party’s nominee in the November general election, regardless of which person emerges victorious and irrespective of what principles he or she happens to hold.  Shortly after posting this piece, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell offered his take on the oath, which I present, to you below along with some additional commentary:

 Statement of Governor Bob McDonnell on Proposed  Loyalty Oath for March GOP Presidential Primary in Commonwealth

RICHMOND– Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement this morning regarding the proposed “loyalty oath” that all voters seeking to participate in the March GOP Presidential Primary in Virginia would be required to sign in order to cast a vote.

“Over the past few days I have reviewed the issue of the proposal that voters sign a loyalty oath as a requirement for participation in our upcoming GOP Presidential Primary in March. While I fully understand the reasoning that led to the establishment of this requirement, such an oath is unenforceable and I do not believe it is in the best interests of our Party, or the Commonwealth. The effect of the oath could be one of diminishing participation in the primary, at a time when our Party must be expanding its base and membership as we head into the pivotal 2012 general elections this fall. For these reasons, I urge the State Central Committee to rescind the loyalty oath requirement at its upcoming meeting on the 21st.

It is true that for political parties to remain viable they must have some means by which to control their own nomination processes. I know the loyalty oath was proposed as a possible good faith solution to this issue in this primary election, but there are other ways. I would support legislation to establish voluntary party registration in Virginia. Such a reform to our electoral system would eliminate the need for any oaths or pledges and greatly simplify the nomination process in the Commonwealth.”

VC Note: I always welcome another nail in the coffin of the hated loyalty oath.  Even though odds are pretty good that I will support the Republican nominee against President Obama, I believe the oath attempts to strip away our right to vote our conscious as well as the idea of a secret ballot.  Sure, it is unenforceable, but it creates a situation whereby otherwise honorable people will refuse to sign the oath and therefore be denied the right to vote.  After all, if it is dishonorable to break the oath, then only 100% party loyalists and dishonorable people will show up to vote.  Should either of these two groups have complete control over the primary?  I think doing so is bad for the candidates, bad for the party, bad for the state, and bad for the nation. 

Then again, I believe the process is best handled through conventions rather than primaries.  If states held conventions and caucuses in 2008 as opposed to primaries, I’m pretty sure that the Republican nominee wouldn’t have been John McCain.  Were you happy with that choice?  I know that even though I am a Republican I was not, but then again, neither were a majority of the American voting population.  So how is that hope and change working out for you?

Lt. Governor Bolling on the Oath

VC Note:  I just received this press release from Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling.  I’m glad to see that more and more people, politicians and activists alike, are taking a stand against the undemocratic loyalty oath forced upon voters in Virginia’s March 6th Presidential Primary.  Hopefully, with enough backlash, the party will get rid of this oath and never attempt to use it again.


RICHMOND – Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling today asked members of the Republican Party of Virginia’s (RPV) State Central Committee (SCC) to rescind the Loyalty Oath in connection with the upcoming presidential primary.

In a letter to SCC members, Lieutenant Governor Bolling wrote:

“In recent days various Republican Party leaders and activists have inquired about my position on the Loyalty Oath, so I wanted to share my views on this issue with you.  While I certainly understand the rationale for a Loyalty Oath and respect the initial decision the SCC made in approving a Loyalty Oath, it is my belief that the Loyalty Oath should be rescinded.

“I am concerned that requiring a Loyalty Oath may send the wrong message about our desire to grow our party and create an opportunity for more people to become involved in the party.  If we want to prepare the Republican Party for the future and build a robust organization that can defeat President Obama and Tim Kaine this fall, we must grow our party, make our party more inclusive and avoid any action that could be perceived as being exclusive.”

Lieutenant Governor Bolling added, “I realize that one of the challenges with Virginia’s current open primary system is the possibility that our primary could be influenced by Democrats or other voters who do not have the best interest of our party or candidates at heart.  That is a legitimate concern and that is why I have always supported and continue to support voluntary party registration in Virginia.  I know that the SCC’s decision to require a Loyalty Oath in the upcoming presidential primary was intended to try and diminish this possibility.”

RPV Chairman Mullins has called a special meeting of the SCC for January 21, 2012 at which time the committee will revisit the requirement for a Loyalty Oath.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

Cuccinelli Reverses Course

Earlier today, I wrote about Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s decision to try and alter Virginia’s election rules.  If successful, doing so would’ve allowed ballot access to candidates who did normally qualify for Virginia March 6th Republican Presidential Primary.

During the football game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, I received an email from our Attorney General entitled, “Now that Everyone Is Upset With Me…”  In the message, Mr. Cuccinelli reiterates his earlier opinion that “Virginia needs to change its ballot access requirements for our statewide elections.”  However, he goes on to state, “…my concern grows that we cannot find a way to make such changes fair to the Romney and Paul campaigns that qualified even with Virginia’s burdensome system. A further critical factor that I must consider is that changing the rules midstream is inconsistent with respecting and preserving the rule of law – something I am particularly sensitive to as Virginia’s attorney general.”  As a result, he promises that he “will not support efforts to apply such changes to the 2012 Presidential election”.

In his concluding remarks, Ken Cuccinelli admits that this particular position was not for the best.  “But when convinced that my position is wrong, I think it necessary to concede as much and adjust accordingly.”  I cannot say what, if any, impact my earlier article made to switch his decision, but the most important factor is that he now recognizes this error. Many politicians arrogantly claim to never make mistakes in judgment.  However, I’m glad to see that our Attorney General proves himself to be of a higher caliber; not only is he taking responsibility, he is also reversing himself before it is too late.

I predict that this matter won’t tarnish Ken Cuccinelli’s reputation too much.  Nevertheless, this episode has provided Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, his opponent for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2013, a bit of ammunition.  As the Lt. Governor writes in a press release this evening, “Going forward, I would also encourage Attorney General Cuccinelli to avoid making public statements that criticize our state election laws while his office is defending the State Board of Elections in a lawsuit that has been brought against them by Governor Perry and certain other presidential candidates.  I am concerned that such public comments could be used against the Commonwealth in our effort to defend these lawsuits, and I am confident that the Attorney General would not want to do anything that could jeopardize his office’s ability to win this case.”  Yes, Lt. Governor, I certainly agree with your thoughts on this matter.

Although neither the Perry nor Gingrich campaigns will be happy to learn that they have lost an ally this evening, I’m pleased to report that Cuccinelli has reversed course.  Hopefully, when it comes to holding free and fair elections here in Virginia, the rule of law shall always prevail.

Ken Cuccinelli is…Wrong?

Picture from Ken Cuccinelli's Facebook Page

Less than twenty-four hours ago, Fox News reported that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is planning to intervene in Virginia’s presidential primary process by filing a bill to allow more candidates on the March 6th ballot.

In case you haven’t been following the story, let me give you a bit of background.  Virginia requires candidates seeking to be on the Virginia statewide ballot to collect signatures from 10,000 registered voters in the commonwealth, with at least 400 coming from each of Virginia’s eleven congressional districts.  It is one of the most stringent requirements of any state in the nation.  Four of the Republican Presidential candidates submitted signatures by the December 22nd deadline and the Republican Party of Virginia deemed that only two of these candidates, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, filed a sufficient number of valid signatures.

On the surface, the idea of allowing more of the candidates to appear on the ballot seems perfectly valid.  After all, offering the maximum number of choices will allow a voter to pick the candidate that best matches his or her ideology rather than selecting among the “lesser of two evils”, which, unfortunately, is often the only choice presented.

However, upon closer examination, the Attorney General’s campaign appears to be misguided.  The Republican Party of Virginia set out the requirements for the candidates well in advance on the December 22nd deadline.  Bring us 10,000 valid signatures and you are in; fail to do so and tough luck.  Although not all of the details are completely clear, we do know that Romney, Paul, Gingrich, and Perry each submitted signatures by December 22nd, while the other candidates did not.  Romney, by virtue of submitting over 15,000 signatures, was declared an official candidate without requiring checking his signatures.  After scrutiny, Paul met the mark.  Both Gingrich and Perry fell short as a result of some combination of either not submitting a sufficient number, including voters who did not properly fill out the form, not having the formed properly notarized, and/or by using signature collectors who were not registered voters in Virginia.

Now, as stated earlier, one can certainly argue that Virginia’s requirements to get on the statewide ballot are too high.  That topic is a reasonable point that ought to be discussed.  However, that matter should have been addressed prior to the point at which candidates were certified for the ballot.  Why did no one raise a big fuss until after the votes were counted?  Was the process fair and reasonable until certain preferred candidates were excluded?

To draw a parallel, this situation reminds me of grade school students participating in either an academic or athletic competition.  After the event is over and their kid ends up losing, parents scream to either the referee or the administration that the process was rigged and his or her kid would have won if only the rules were fair (i.e. laid out in such a way as to favor him).  In the parents’ minds it is irrelevant that the agreed upon rules were followed and clearly explained ahead of time.  Principles don’t matter; winning is everything!

Would I have liked to see more candidates on Virginia’s ballot?  Sure.  When it comes to elections, I’m pro-choice.  As I’ve written previously, I collected signatures for both Paul and Johnson and signed forms for every candidate who asked.  So then was I disappointed to discover that Gary Johnson would not be on the ballot?  Of course!  Nevertheless, as the rules were clearly stated, the proper course of action wasn’t to fume and shout, demanding that the Republican Party of Virginia break the agreed upon standards just because the results were not quite what I hoped.  What sorts of arguments can Gingrich and Perry offer in their defense?  We didn’t expect you to review our signatures.  You would have never known that we were cheating if you didn’t check our work!  Do you consider these excuses valid?

By stepping into this mess, I worry that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli doesn’t have as strong a framework regarding the rule of law as I had hoped.  Don’t get me wrong; if the process is too hard, then it should be changed prior to the next statewide signature collection process, the 2012 Senate race.  However, one shouldn’t go back and tinker with the December 22nd results.  That event is over and, be it for better or worse, Perry and Gingrich competed under the stated rules and lost.  They should not be retroactively given the chance to compete after legitimately failing the required drug test.

Election laws should not be changed on a whim.  Even worse, they must not be modified after the results are tabulated and announced.  Although such a move is common among third-world despots, I’d like to think that Virginians have a bit more respect for free and fair election processes.  Therefore, for the sake of our electoral process, I must oppose the actions of any elected official who is trying to make a mockery of the December 22nd result, even if it happens to be one of my favorite leaders, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.  I sincerely hope that he realizes the ramifications of his actions and reverses course before it is too late.