Archive for December 2011
The most important things happening in the 2012 presidential campaign are no doubt coming from Iowa, with their first in the nation caucus just a few days away. But while the candidates make their closing arguments, the Virginia ballot squabble continues to hang over the discussion.
In the most interesting development from today, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich put the blame for missing the ballot on a single member of his campaign team that collected signatures on his behalf. During an event today, Gingrich explained his failure to make the ballot as the result of his staff member committing fraud.
“We hired somebody who turned in false signatures,” said Gingrich. ”We turned in 11,100 – we needed 10,000 – 1,500 of them were by one guy who frankly committed fraud.” (h/t CNN)
Sources that were inside the room while the ballots were being counted say tell me that the Gingrich’s account “closely mirrors” what they saw that night.
The conservative website Bearing Drift, reported the night of the counting that the rumor from the inside was that about 2,000 signatures were going to be tossed.
This unlikely scenario was actually predicted by a satirical twitter page, designed to make fun of NBC12. I have more on that on my facebook page.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry‘s campaign continues its legal challenge to get access to the Virginia ballot. Today they requested an emergency order in federal court to require Virginia’s Board of Elections to place his name on the ballot.
His campaign contends that the voters are the ones whose rights are being violated by leaving them fewer options for Super Tuesday.
In an interview on NBC12 First at 4, Perry Communications director Ray Sullivan told me from Iowa that despite his commitment to state’s rights, the Texas governor, believes the federal courts have every right to intervene.
“He (Perry) believes the Constitution gives both the voters and citizens of Virginia as well as the candidates the reasonable rights to the political process that we believe are being are infringed by onerous and restrictive ballot access rules,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan claims that Virginia’s requirement of 10,000 signatures, including 400 from each congressional district is particularly restrictive.
“The 10,000 requirement when you have 7 candidates seeking a pool of 119,000 republican voters is an unreasonable and onerous burden to put on the candidates,” said Sullivan. “That in effect, denies people the right to participate in the political process.”
But what Sullivan couldn’t explain, was how the campaign told the Virginia Board of Elections that they had collected more than 11,000 signatures when in reality, only 6,000 were handed in.
“I don’t have an explanation for you,” said Sullivan. ”The petitions were turned in.”
You can see our entire interview with Sullivan below:
While the campaigns made moves of their own to re-establish themselves on the Virginia ballot, former Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Paul Goldman called for state lawmakers to enact “emergency legislation” to allow more people to get on the ballot. A path that House Majority Leader Kirk Cox told us yesterday was unlikely.
Andy Jenks has that part of the story on NBC12.com.
And while all these different groups continued to make excuses and attack the Republican Party of Virginia, today the party struck back. They released a passionate defense of their petition certification process and reminded reporters of their intial assessment that Perry and Gingrich fell well short of the 10,000 mark.
“The failure of these two candidates to meet the state requirements does not call into question the accuracy of the Party’s certification of the two candidates who are duly qualified to appear on the ballot,” wrote party spokesman Garren Shipley.
Their full statement can be found after the jump:
An interesting note from the Federal Court Challenge filed by the Rick Perry campaign. Perry’s team submitted an 18 page suit today asking for a preliminary and permanant injunction.
You can see their entire challenge here.
When the Perry campaign submitted their petitions they informed the Board of Elections that they had collected more than 11 thousand signatures. As the certification process started it became clear that they were nowhere near that number. Sources inside the room where the signatures were being counted told me that the Perry campaign had truly submitted somewhere between 4 to 6 thousand signatures.
In paragraph 18 of his challenge, Perry’s attorney states the following:
“On December 22, 2011 the plantiff submitted to the board over 6,000 signatures from qualified Virginia voters.” -Perry Federal Legal Challenge to Virginia Ballot Process
It appears the Perry campaign claim told the Virginia Board of Elections something different that what was actually the case.
Virginia House Majority Leader Kirk Cox doesn’t like the odds of the General Assembly altering the rules to allow more candidates onto the GOP presidential primary ballot in March. In an interview with NBC12′s Andy Jenks, Cox said the chances of that happening are “zero to none”.
Cox sympathizes with Texas Governor Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who were kicked off the ballot after not getting enough qualified signatures, but said they knew the rules ahead of time. According to Cox, their poor planning should not lead the state legislature to rush in to changing the standards.
“I think the biggest mistake you can make though is to jump into it and say, Oh yeah because one candidate was affected let us go back and completely change the law,” he said. “I think that makes bad policy.”
Cox is open to changing the law in the future, but doubts that there will be an appetite for rushing through legislation before March. His opinion is different that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who assailed the process in a e-newsletter to his supporters. While Cuccinelli’s opinion matters, Cox is among a small group of lawmakers with the power to actually change the law. The fact that he appears unwilling to do so speaks volumes.
His perspective seems to be in line with Governor Bob McDonnell, who in the wake of the ballot controversy told us that the rules are the rules.
“If somebody doesn’t like the rules, maybe the legislature can change it next time,” said McDonnell. ”But everybody knew this was the rules to compete with.” Extended clips from McDonnell’s remarks can be found below.
But the legislature may be one of several paths that supporters of the candidates left out may be able to take. Former Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Paul Goldman is exploring some of those options with the conservative “Citizens for the Republic’. Today on First at 4, Goldman told me it’s not about Gingrich or Romney it is about the voters who will have fewer options to choose from.
UPDATE: It appears Goldman is not the only looking into a non-leglislative solution to the ballot access problem. Late today the campaign for Rick Perry announced that they have filed a Federal Court Challenge to the RPV’s decision to deny him access to the ballot.
His challenge can be found here.
Goldman hopes to reveal his plan to help get more candidates on the ballot as soon as tomorrow. My conversation with him from First at 4 can be found below:
Governor McDonnell’s comments on the subject can be seen below:
At a time when Virginia is expected to be considered one of the most important states in the 2012 presidential election, its first moment in the national spotlight was overshadowed by only two of the potential seven candidates gaining access to the ballot and a party volunteer losing her life in a car accident.
Two different GOP officials confirm that a woman, that was helping count and verify signatures submitted by presidential candidates, was involved in a serious car crash after leaving the signature canvassing session. She was killed in the accident.
Her identity was not immediatley available.
The fatal accident was the capper of a difficult and somewhat embarrassing night for the state republican party. Of the seven potential candidates for president, only four attempted to submit the necessary 10,000 signatures to get on the March 6th ballot. Of the four that decided to participate only two, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, were certified as official candidates.
Texas Governor Rick Perry fell far short of being certified. A GOP activist said that despite telling the state Board of Elections that he submitted more than 11 thousand signatures, the Perry campaign handed in somewhere between 4-6 thousands qualified signatures.
Then early Saturday morning, The RPV determined that House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who had just spent two days drumming up support and cash for the state party, also did not qualify for the ballot. Gingrich was disqualified at 2:50am.
The credible conservative blog, Bearing Drift is reporting that one of the Gingrich’s petition gatherers was not qualified. According to BD, that accounted for as many as 2 thousand of the speaker’s signatures being tossed, but could open the door to a legal challenge.
Losing both Gingrich and Perry from the Virginia primary ballot is shocking, given that both have worked to develop strong ties to the Commonwealth. Gingrich is a Virginia resident and has spent quite a bit of time traveling the state over the past several years. Perry is close with Governor Bob McDonnell and headlined a very successful fundraiser for the party in September.
In the wake of this petition drama, pundits from both sides of the aisle are saying that this process has separated the true contenders from those just going through the motions.
Norm Leahy wrote this morning that the Virginia Republican petition process actually became the first actual presidential primary. “A hardened cynic might say this result exposes those campaigns for what they are: glorified book tours,” Wrote Leahy. He went on to say, “Getting on Virginia’s ballot was a test of organizational skill and grassroots strength. It was also something much more mundane: it tested whether campaigns could pay attention to a calendar and read instructions.”
Former Democratic Party of Virginia chairman Paul Goldman, who predicted Perry and Gingrich wouldn’t make it, said the failure of the major candidates indicates problems with their campaign infrastructure. “This is a failing of the national Perry and Gingrich campaigns who are supposed to helping locals get it done,” he said. However, Goldman believes the people are the ones who suffer. He believes the General Assembly should entertain the idea of changing the law to give these candidates a reprieve in time for the March primary.
Meanwhile Virginia Democrats certified President Barack Obama as their only candidate for the March primary.
Texas Governor Rick Perry will not appear on the Virginia Republican primary ballot on March 6th. The Republican Party of Virginia, which is still in the process of counting the signatures the candidates submitted to gain access to the ballot, said tonight that the Perry campaign submitted fewer than the 10,000 signatures necessary according to the Code of Virginia.
Sources inside the room tell NBC12 that Perry did not even come close.
A GOP activist who witnessed the count said that it became very clear that the Perry campaign, which reported to the Virginia Board of elections that it had gathered 11,911 signatures, did not come anywhere near that number. This source said Perry’s campaign may have submitted somewhere between 4-6 thousand qualified signatures.
Perry’s State Chair, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore confirmed that his candidate did not make the ballot.
Not making the ballot will be a disappointment to the Perry campaign, which enjoyed pretty solid ties to Virginia. The Texas Governor is close friends with Governor Bob McDonnell and was enthusiastically welcomed to the Commonwealth shortly after he announced his intentions to run for president. He spoke to a capacity crowd at the Richmond Convention Center at a fundraiser for the State Party.
At that time Perry was the frontrunner, now he is fighting for survival by hoping for a 3rd or 4th place finish in the upcoming Iowa caucuses.
Perry now joins, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman as candidates who failed to make the Virginia primary ballot. So far only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have been certified. The party is still counting Newt Gingrich‘s signatures.
*Note photo courtesy of DJ Eckert
5pm Thursday was the deadline for candidates hoping to appear on the March 6th Virginia presidential primary ballot. Of the 7 major candidates still in the race, only 4 submitted petitions to gain access to the ballot.
According to Republican Party of Virginia officials, Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas Congressman Ron Paul all submitted the required 10,000 signatures by the deadline.
Among those 10,000 signatures at least 400 must come from each Virginia Congressional District.
That means former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman and former Utah Governor Jon Hunstman will not appear in Virginia’s primary. Virginia voters will go to the polls on Super Tuesday, March 6.
50 primary delegates are up for grabs in the Commonwealth.
The candidates who submitted petitions still must have their signatures screened before officially being declared on the ballot. That process will begin Friday morning.
Theoretically a candidate could still win the overall nomination without contesting for the delegates in a state like Virginia, but the failure to muster up the signatures does indicate something about the strength of their campaign.
“As difficult as VA qualifying is,” tweeted Larry Sabato, the director of UVA’s Center for Politics. “I can’t take seriously any POTUS campaign failing to get on 12th largest state ballot.”
Virginia economic development officials, led by Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Virginia) are set to make what sources close to the situation are describing as the “largest jobs announcement” in the Commonwealth of Virginia since 2004.
Thursday morning McDonnell will announce that Amazon, the monster internet shopping company, will expand into Chesterfield and Dinwiddie counties. The expansion is expected to bring with it as many as 1,350 jobs.
Amazon, one of the most successful e-commerce companies in the world, already has a fulfillment and warehousing center in Sterling, VA. It was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos and boasted $34 billion in revenue in 2010. They have more than 33 thousand employees worldwide. Their corporate headquarters are located in Seattle, WA.
This type of expansion, from a company with as stable a reputation as Amazon is a major coup for Governor McDonnell who has made job creation the top priority of his administration. McDonnell’s office is often at the forefront of announcements for new jobs in Virginia and this will be far and away the biggest development since he took office.
The official announcement is expected to be revealed Thursday morning. NBC12 will have complete coverage start on 12 News Today at 4:30am. We will keep track of what type of jobs will be available and when as soon as we learn new information.
Here is the full release from Governor McDonnell’s office:
Governor McDonnell, Amazon.com Announce Company’s Plans to Open Two Fulfillment Centers in Virginia, Creating More than 1,350 New Jobs
~ Company to invest $135 million to establish facilities in Chesterfield County and Dinwiddie County~
Biggest Jobs Announcement in Virginia Since 2004
RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced the company’s plans to open two fulfillment centers in Virginia, investing a total of $135 million. The company will invest $85 million and create more than 1,000 jobs in Chesterfield County, and invest $50 million in Dinwiddie County, creating more than 350 jobs.
Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McDonnell said, “This project that includes a $135 million investment and more than 1,350 new jobs is a tremendous win for the greater Richmond region. Amazon is known all over the world, and the new centers in Chesterfield and Dinwiddie counties will fulfill orders across the United States. The establishment of these new operations is testament to the positive business climate and success the company has experienced in the Commonwealth.”
“Chesterfield and Dinwiddie counties were chosen for this significant project due to the ease and speed with which the facilities can be built and become operational,” said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “In addition, the skill and availability of the region’s workforce were key factors. We are thrilled that Amazon recognized the assets and solid infrastructure in place in the greater Richmond region and will make a great investment to establish its new fulfillment centers in Virginia.”
“We look forward to opening two new Amazon facilities in the Richmond area next year, bringing tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of new jobs to the state,” said Dave Clark, vice-president, Amazon North American Operations. “We’re grateful to Governor McDonnell and other state, county and local officials for their commitment to our investment in Virginia.”
As a new member of the Chesterfield and Dinwiddie County communities, Amazon also announced that it is donating $10,000 to the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, which will be allocated to food banks in these counties.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Chesterfield County, Dinwiddie County, the Greater Richmond Partnership, and Virginia’s Gateway Region to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a total of $3.5 million in grants from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist both Chesterfield County and Dinwiddie County with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $850,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the Dinwiddie County project. The company is eligible to receive benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company’s recruitment and training activities.
“We are so pleased that international Internet giant Amazon has selected Chesterfield County for their new one million-square-foot fulfillment center,” said Art Warren, the Chairman of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. “It is exciting this outstanding announcement coincides with the opening of the new Meadowville interchange which will benefit everyone, present and future. And, the infrastructure surrounding this announcement further positions the Meadowville technology Park as a key destination for business. Welcome Amazon as the newest member of our corporate family.”
“Dinwiddie County is extremely pleased with Amazon’s decision to locate a fulfillment center in the Dinwiddie Commerce Park,” said Doretha E. Moody, Chairman of the Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors. “This is an excellent example of the commitment of the Board of Supervisors to economic development and creating employment opportunities for our community.”
“The Tobacco Commission is glad that we were able to team up with Dinwiddie and the Governor’s Office to attract Amazon to Virginia,” said Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr., a Commissioner of The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. “We believe that they will be a good employer and a good corporate citizen that will provide good jobs for the region. We believe that Amazon will be pleased with our workforce and the region.”
The new facilities are expected to be complete next fall. Amazon’s fulfillment centers in Virginia will be operated by Amazon.com.kydc LLC.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a candidate for the republican nomination for president, will be in the Richmond area on Thursday to raise money for
his campaign the Republican Party of Virginia.
Gingrich will appear at a fundraiser at a hotel in Short Pump.
Governor Bob McDonnell will stop by the event and meet Gingrich.
The former Speaker had jumped out to a sizeable lead in the GOP polls, but a round of heavy attacks from Ron Paul and Mitt Romney has damaged his standings in the polls. Gingrich is generally liked by republican voters, but faces a tougher challenge in a general election campaign against President Barack Obama.
A recent Public Policy Polling survey found Gingrich to be a solid front-runner in the republican primary by Virginia voters. Virginia’s presidential primary does not take place until March 6th, which is also Super Tuesday.
Gingrich will be the third GOP presidential candidate to visit Central Virginia in the last several weeks. The former Massachusetts Governor, Romney hosted a private fundraiser on December 8th in downtown Richmond. Governor McDonnell was scheduled to attend but canceled because it was the same day as the shooting that killed Virginia Tech police officer Deriek W. Crouse. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman held a fundraiser last Thursday at the Country Club of Virginia, that McDonnell dropped in on.
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the governor is looking forward to seeing Gingrich.
“The Governor knows the Speaker well, and he looks forward to stopping by this event,” said Martin. “Governor McDonnell believes the Speaker is running an energetic campaign, and he’s pleased to see him bringing that campaign to his home state of Virginia on Thursday.”
McDonnell of course has repeatedly talked about his desire to see a governor win the nomination. There is also some scuttle that a Gingrich nomination would rule McDonnell out of the running for Vice-President, because both he and the Speaker are Virginians.
Both Romney and Huntsman did not offer any opportunity for press coverage. There is no word on the plans for press access for the Gingrich event on Thursday.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for democrats hoping to hold on to power in the Virginia Senate. First, on election night they lost two seats and were within a razor-thin margin in a third. That third seat, once held by Sen. Edd Houck, meant the difference between a 21-19 majority and a 20-20 tie. Instead of Houck asking for a recount and hoping for a different outcome, the veteran lawmaker conceded guaranteeing a 20-20 tie in the Senate.
That meant that Lt. Governor Bill Bolling held the tie breaking vote and that democrats were now in the minority. But democrats were not ready to give up. Led by Sen. Don McEachin (D-Henrico), they filed a lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court, requesting that they be given the opportunity to share power with the GOP. Today, Judge Beverly W. Snukals denied that request.
Now with the elections over and an unsuccessful legal challenge behind them, the democrats are left with only one option. Beg the now official majority party to share power.
“I call on the Republicans to respect the will of the voters and past history,” said McEachin. ”The senate is evenly divided, 20-20 so committees and responsibilities and power should be divided to reflect that even split, just as the Republicans said in 1996.”
Not surprisingly, the republicans don’t appear to be interested in offering democrats committee chairmanships and evenly distributing members of both parties in those committees.
“It is my hope that Senator McEachin and the Senate Democratic Caucus will realize the futility of pursuing this matter further and begin to prepare appropriately for the important work of the upcoming session,” said the incoming Senate Majority leader Sen. Tommy Norment (R-James City)
McEachin has not ruled out further moves, “both legal and procedural”, but did not go into specifics. He even pointed to a recent Public Policy Polling survey that he claims shows that Virginians want power sharing in the Virginia Senate.
“Over half of respondents, 55%, believe that power should be shared in the Virginia State Senate,” said McEachin. “These voters, constituents of both Democrats and Republicans, recognize that the Election day results created an evenly divided Senate and, therefore, the Senate should organize in a way reflective of those results.
Republicans, though don’t seem moved by McEachin’s argument. Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins welcomed the Circuit Court’s ruling and told the democrats to back off what he called their “sore loser suit”.
“Hopefully, Democrats will accept the judgement of Virginia’s voters – and now the courts – with a measure of grace,” said Mullins.
Despite McEachin’s persistence, the leader of the Virginia Senate democrats appeared to agree with republicans in the days after the election results came in. Sen. Dick Saslaw admitted in a conference call that all the decisions regarding who runs in the Senate were in the republican’s hands.
“They got a tie breaking vote,” said Saslaw. ”If you got 20 plus 1 on a vote you pretty much don’t have to share anything!”