Virginia Attorney General Drops Effort to Get GOP Candidates on Primary Ballot

National Journal staff

Virginia's top lawyer on Sunday announced he will not proceed with his plan to file emergency legislation to change the Virginia law that has kept most of the GOP candidates off the primary ballot, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reports. 

"I obviously feel very strongly that Virginia needs to change its ballot-access requirements for our statewide elections," Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.

"However, after working through different scenarios with Republican and Democratic leaders to attempt to make changes in time for the 2012 presidential election, 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."

Cuccinelli said last month that he would intervene after only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul met the requirement of 10,000 signatures to participate in the March 6 primary.

The shutout of other candidates threatens to make Virginia irrelevant in the primary process. The lack of organizing activity also could handicap the eventual Republican nominee next fall in a swing state that both parties consider must-win.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has challenged the Virginia law and has been granted a Jan. 13 court date. Other GOP hopefuls former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum have formally joined Perry's lawsuit.