While Newt Gingrich warns the press he will “barely” qualify for the ballot in Virginia, Mitt Romney’s campaign is exuding confidence about its organization.
The Old Dominion State requires that each presidential-primary contender collect 10,000 signatures by tomorrow to get on the ballot, and a Romney aide tells NRO, “Word on the street is that we beat everybody by significant margins in our Virginia petitions.”
Should the primary drag on for months, a campaign’s organization could prove decisive in securing the nomination. The aide identifies three states — states with difficult filing requirements — to watch after Virginia’s deadline passes: Indiana, Illinois, and Montana.
In Indiana, a candidate must collect 4,500 signatures statewide, including 500 signatures from each of the state’s nine congressional districts, which recently have been redrawn. What’s more, in each county, the campaign must deliver its signatures to the respective board of elections. After the board has certified the signatures, the campaign must submit the certification to the secretary of state’s office. The aide says Romney’s campaign has already collected twice the required amount.
In Illinois, the candidate must collect 3,000–5,000 signatures statewide, and the state gives the campaign a short window of time — from January 3 to 6 — to do so. But more important are delegate elections. Unlike in other states, the Illinois primary is a “beauty contest.” In other words, the vote isn’t binding. Instead, delegates must run for election themselves, and to place on the ballot, each candidate must collect 600 signatures from the district in which he or she resides.
At Team Romney, staffers have essentially finished their signature drive. “Our team is going to go home for Christmas,” the aide says.
Finally, there’s Montana, whose deadline isn’t until March. In that state as well, the Romney campaign has finished gathering signatures. It’s likely the other candidates haven’t even started, though the primary isn’t until June.
This organization gap may prove difficult for other candidates to overcome, though the aide admits Ron Paul’s people are organized. When out gathering signatures, “the people we see the most are Ron Paul folks. . . . They’re good at doing this.”