Virginia’s Republican presidential primary election is getting more and more absurd. Check out Va. GOP to require loyalty oath in presidential primary. Now, in order to keep Democrats from nominating Ron Paul as our candidate, Republicans have to promise to vote for Ron Paul if he does win the primary?

In an email dated today, Delegate Bob Marshall questioned the idea of requiring a loyalty oath in order to participate in the March 6 Republican primary.

FOR RELEASE: On Receipt (December 29, 2011)
CONTACT: Del Bob Marshall, (703) 853-4213

Would Block Gingrich from Voting

Del. Bob Marshall is urging Virginia’s GOP leaders to ask the State Board of Elections to rescind its ruling that voters, before taking part in the March 6 Republican presidential primary, must pledge in writing that they intend to support the party’s White House nominee in the Nov. 6 general election.

“Ironically, requiring a loyalty oath will bar even former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich from voting in the primary because he already has said unequivocally that he will not vote for Ron Paul for president if he’s the Republican nominee,” Marshall (R., 13th District) noted Thursday (Dec. 29).

“Virginia’s Republican leadership wants to mandate a loyalty oath when Virginia’s Republican officials are in court fighting the Obamacare mandate?  This sends the wrong message.”

Gingrich, a McLean resident, is running for the GOP presidential nomination.  His name, however, will not appear on the primary ballot because he lacked enough petition signatures to qualify.  Only two Republican presidential candidates – Rep. Paul (R., Texas) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – have been certified for the primary ballot by GOP State Chairman Pat Mullins.

By a 3-0 vote Wednesday at the request of state GOP leaders, the Board of Elections agreed to invoke a state statute permitting political parties to require loyalty oaths in the nominating process.

The Elections Board approved forms on which voters, before being eligible to cast ballots in the primary, must sign and print their names below a line that reads: “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.”

The board also approved a sign to be posted at all polling places advising that “Section 24.2-545 of the Code of Virginia allows the political party holding a primary to determine requirements for voting in the primary, including the signing of a pledge by the voter of his intention to support the party’s candidate when offering to vote in the primary.”

“I understand Republican leaders not wanting Democrats to make our decision for us,” Marshall said, “but a loyalty oath is not the way to address that circumstance.”

Gingrich’s statement that he will not support Paul was made in a CNN interview Tuesday.  [See]

“Loyalty oaths are detested by many good Republicans who solidly back our party’s principles and who have never voted for a Democrat in their lives,” Marshall said.  “And there are other concerns.

“In November, Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell and Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli, both Republicans, supported an Independent for Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney over the Republican nominee.  Does this make them suspect Republicans?

“How many conservative Democrats voted for Ronald Reagan in ‘Republican’ primaries in 1980?  Would they have voted in a Republican primary that required a loyalty oath when Reagan was probably the only Republican they would vote for?   I doubt it.

“Requiring Virginia election workers to enforce a Republican loyalty oath in a primary paid for by the general taxpayer is a markedly questionable use of tax money.

“Republicans I know want to defeat President Obama and his liberal Democrat supporters in Congress.  I believe the great majority will vote for the Republican nominee over Obama.  I question whether beating Barack Obama, which I am working hard to do, is furthered by requiring a loyalty oath in this presidential primary.”

On days like this, a third party looks like the only viable alternative. When will our Republican leaders stop and think? If there is no enforcement provision, is any Democrat dishonest enough to participate in a Republican primary really going to care about an oath he regards as stupid. If there is an enforcement provision, why do we need anyone to take oath?

What kind of enforcement provision do we need? Party registration would be nice, but it is too late. Nevertheless, we do have an option. When citizens participate in primary elections, we keep a record. So we could relatively easily exclude anybody who has a record of participating in Democratic primaries from participating in Republican primaries — and vice versa.

Would that be a good use of taxpayer money? Are primary elections a good use of taxpayer money? I don’t think so, and I don’t think they will ever work well. Nonetheless, if we are going to have primaries, we ought to at least try to do them right. As it is, what we are doing is blatantly stupid.



In his latest Cuccinelli Compass, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli focuses on the presidential debate.  In addition, he comments on the rules to get on Virginia’s ballot for the March 6th presidential primary.

The Presidential Debate

December 26, 2011

Dear Fellow Virginians and Friends,

While I’m taking a break for Christmas, given that the Iowa caucuses are so close, I thought it would be a good time to jot down some reflections on the Presidential debate I had the privilege to be part of earlier this month.

Also, you’ve probably heard by now that only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified to be on Virginia’s Presidential primary ballot on March 6th.  I’ll address this very unfortunate circumstance toward the end of this Compass.

Three weeks ago, while many of you were at the Republican Advance, I was in New York participating in a Presidential debate on FOX as one of the three questioners with Mike Huckabee as moderator.  While I was very sorry not to be able to attend the Advance, the presidential debate was a spectacular experience, and a successful one.

When even the New York Times writes that our debate was the most substantive debate so far, you know you’ve achieved something, given how much they like us Republicans!

The format was not really a debate, it was more of a forum.  The candidates were up one at a time for 11 straight minutes with no other candidates on stage with them.

Each of them could watch the show live, so they each saw one another on stage.  That meant we had to come up with different questions for each candidate.  Those of you who watched would have noticed very little overlap in questions.  The only exception to this rule was our ‘quickie’ questions sometimes used at the end of a candidate’s time slot.

For example, if they still had 20 seconds of their 11 minutes, we might ask them who their favorite founding father was (no coke vs. pepsi questions).  Gingrich said George Washington, Perry said Madison.  Two good Virginia answers.

Giving all the candidates the same amount of time had only been done once before that I know of, and that was during the South Carolina forum I attended on Labor Day.  Senator DeMint, Congressman King, and Professor George were the questioners at that event where each candidate had 22 minutes.  That forum was my own model during our discussions about how to structure our debate.  I hope this type of forum will be used more frequently in the future as it is an excellent way to give voters a great deal of information about candidates in a short amount of time.  It’s also a way that our candidates can shine, rather than be torn down by questioners from MSNBC, The Washington Post, etc., all of whom want the GOP candidate to lose anyway.

The debate prior to ours was a foreign policy debate on CBS, and Congressman Paul got a grand total of 89 seconds.  Why should he have even bothered to show up?  And how rude is it of CBS to invite him to come and then ask him almost nothing?

I understand the logic of spending more time with frontrunners, however, I found that the time with non-frontrunners provided a helpful perspective when thinking about whether I wanted either of the frontrunners as my nominee.  In other words, there was great value to equal time… not to mention it was fair, which doesn’t hurt either!

The order of candidates was drawn at 4 p.m. for the 8 p.m. debate, and it went Gingrich, Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, Paul, then Romney.  Afterwards, they each had one minute for a closing statement.

As I mentioned, Governor Huckabee was the moderator and he’s such a nice, down to earth person, he did a great job making all participants comfortable while still moving things along.

The two other questioners were the Attorneys General of Oklahoma and Florida, Scott Pruitt and Pam Bondi respectively.

The entire debate can be seen without commercials by clicking here.

We focused on federalism, the Constitution and executive power.  As Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in the wrap-up comments at the close of the show, we talked more about the Constitution in that one debate than all the previous debates combined!  I think she was quite right.

So, if you are one of those that lament the lack of constitutional discussion, this was the debate for you!

I found it interesting that in all the post-debate punditry, no one asked me who did the best.  The answer might surprise you.

I thought that Rick Santorum did the best, and he came across as friendly and nice while doing it (he’s been dinged for appearing sour in other debates).

Separately, Rick Perry had his best performance so far.  And while even he would acknowledge he’s not a champion debater, it was good to see him do well.

I thought both frontrunners – Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney – underperformed, at least relative to the high expectations people have developed of both of them.

For my own questions, I pressed Gingrich on how he would filter out his many big-government ideas.  He basically responded that he wouldn’t filter them out.  I got the sense that he thinks every idea he has is a great one, yet his history makes clear that such is not the case.  For example, did you know he wanted to get rid of the work requirement in welfare reform in the 90’s?

He referred to the work requirement in welfare reform as, are you ready for this? “Right wing social engineering.”  Sound familiar?

During our debate, I was trying to get some confidence that a President Gingrich wouldn’t use government to pursue every idea he had.  I got no such confidence.  Actually, quite the opposite.  He came across as another big-government conservative… whatever that is.

It will probably shock all of you to know that I asked Mitt Romney about his 2006 Massachusetts health care bill.  (That’s a joke for our newer subscribers)

Romney conceded that it had driven costs up in Massachusetts and that he had not foreseen what the Massachusetts legislature would do with the law later (Really? Is it really hard to foresee the Massachusetts legislature running hog wild with a new entitlement/mandate?).

However, a more subtle aspect of my back-and-forth with Governor Romney related to comparisons between the 2006 Massachusetts health care law and the 2010 federal health care law.  Most people did not pick up on the significance of how Romney positioned his 2006 health care law vis-à-vis the 2010 federal health care law.

Romney basically took the position that the Massachusetts law was good, but the federal law was bad.  His rationale was very surprising, it was that President Obama ‘went too far’ with the federal law.

Think about that.

Let’s retain the logic, but restate it.

The 2010 federal health care law was a bad law, but the 2006 Massachusetts law did less of the same thing, so it was a good law.

When he made his statements, I was struck by what a proudly ‘democrat light’ position it was.

As someone who tries very hard to campaign and govern as consistently as possible with a constitutional conservative philosophy, the philosophical argument Romney made is a non sequitur.  It doesn’t make sense to me to say pursuing a state takeover of health insurance is a good thing, but pursuing a national takeover of health insurance with a few more bells and whistles is a bad thing.

As you can tell, I didn’t think that either Gingrich or Romney did particularly well.  Mind you, they both come across well, neither did badly, but neither of them met expectations.

Another interesting element was Congressman Paul’s discussion of Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.  He takes the position that these programs are unconstitutional, and that the Supreme Court has been wrong in concluding otherwise.  So I asked him if he’d sign a budget that provided funding for these programs that he believes are unconstitutional.

Somewhat to my surprise he said “yes.”  To clarify, I restated part of my question to get more explanation from him.  Interestingly, he basically said, ‘look, these things have been around a long time, and even though they’re unconstitutional, we’d have to work our way out of them, as cutting them off cold turkey would be too disruptive to too many people.’

Given the fact that Ron Paul is the standard for consistency in the race, one expects to hear him say ‘it’s unconstitutional, so we need to end it tomorrow.’  But he took a very practical approach, something that I don’t think some Republicans want to credit him with being able (willing?) to do.

Given his view of the constitutionality of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, his forward-looking explanation seemed very reasonable in accounting for all of the impacts that governance consistent with his views would entail.

Participating in the debate was a great experience.  I got to know Scott Pruitt, Pam Bondi and their staffs better as we worked together to prepare.  I also got to spend some more time with Gov. Huckabee, who is just such a pleasure to work with.  And I also got to work with a bunch of the folks at FOX, producers, the “brain room,” etc. who were just great to work with and from whom I learned a lot.  Finally, I came away with positive impressions of all of our candidates.

There are definitely some good people in this race, but I can’t help hoping that a new conservative candidate gets in the race.  Given the schedule, it’s entirely plausible.  For a good article on this possibility, check out Virginia’s own Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

A Note On The Virginia Ballot

As I noted above, it now appears that the only two candidates that will be on Virginia’s ballot on March 6th: Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Ron Paul.  While I’m glad for them, it screams out for making our ballot more accessible.

I have had the opportunity to talk to a number of the candidates and their campaigns in the last month or so, and the Bachmann folks tell me that Virginia is the third hardest ballot access state in the country.  I personally don’t think that’s a good thing.

To get on the ballot, a presidential candidate has to collect 10,000 legitimate signatures across Virginia – county by county and city by city – with at least 400 legitimate signatures in each congressional district.  Virginia’s State Board of Elections recommends that campaigns come in with over 15,000 signatures, including over 700 from each congressional district given what a high proportion of signatures typically fail some requirement or another.

I would throw out for consideration that we should lower our requirements to 100 legitimate signatures per congressional district.

Let’s face it, absent a serious write-in challenge from some other candidate, Virginia won’t be nearly as ‘fought over’ as it should be in the midst of such a wide open nomination contest.  Our own laws have reduced our relevance.  Sad.

I hope our new GOP majorities will fix this problem so that neither party confronts it again.  I for one would like Virginia to be heard from in our nomination process, and I’m sure you would too.


Hanukkah began last Tuesday at sundown, so Happy Hanukkah to all of our Jewish readers, and I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas yesterday!


Ken Cuccinelli, II
Attorney General of Virginia


If you are interested in what Cuccinelli had to say in A Note On The Virginia Ballot, please check out the post previous to this one, AN EXAMPLE OF HOW WE SHOOT OURSELVES IN THE FOOT UPDATED WITH OTHER VIEWS. In addition to providing my thoughts on the issue, I reference both news and blog articles.


Virginia Right’s Tom White has some good posts on Virginia’s presidential election debacle.

Gingrich Out in Virginia Primary – Only Romney and Paul on Va GOP Primary Ballot reports on the disaster.

Newt Gingrich was eliminated from the possibility of having his name on the Virginia Republican Presidential Primary ballot for 2012.

Virginia requires at least 10,000 signatures which must include 400 from each Congressional District.

Mitt Romney and Ron Paul remain as the only candidates whose name will appear on the ballot in the Republican Presidential Primary.

This news was released a few hours ago as State GOP workers counted well into the wee hours. (continued here)

Virginia May Have Improperly Excluded Signatures From Perry, Gingrich. a Recount May Be Needed! suggests possible legal challenges.

I’m no attorney but I do know how to find and read the laws of Virginia.

Various reports have stated that the signatures turned in by Newt Gingrich included at least 2,000 that were invalidated because there was no address given with the signature.

If this were a Virginia Statewide office, that would be correct. But this is a Presidential Primary. And while the rules are similar, they are actually addressed in two separate sections of the Virginia Code. (continued here)

The comments also focus on the legal issues. Some took issue with Tom White’s observation that Newt Gingrich (and perhaps Rick Perry as well) might have a case. In fact, they chose to blame the victims. Here is an example.

J.R. Hoeft · 16 hours ago

Great, so let’s gird our loins and lawyer up. That’ll make us all think more positively of Gingrich and Perry and their inept campaigns.

Such comments led me to offer one of my own.

Citizen Tom · 14 hours ago

Excuse me. I understand the legal niceties cannot be avoided. I understand we all have our favorite candidates, but would you all do me a favor? Just answer a straightforward question. This is Christmas Day in 2011. We are talking about a presidential election in November 2012. When it is so difficult to get a presidential campaign rolling, why are we requiring that the petitions be completed now? All this kind of crap does is make it almost impossible except for the richest candidates to run. I don’t care how organized you are. In Prince William County we just filled our seats in the General Assembly, the Sheriff’s office, the Commonwealth Attorney, the Board of County Supervisors, the School Board, and the Soil and Water Board. And now we are already being pestered by presidential candidates. My wife is so sick of telephone solicitations from politicians it is not funny. When voters refuse to pay any attention to another political race this soon, the news media is just not that interested.

I follow politics more carefully than most. Until after our elections in November 2011, I had no real interest in the 2012 elections. So the first I heard of that the petitions would be due before Christmas was when the press started saying Gingrich would not have time to get his petitions done. And I just shook my head. We are going to be stuck with a choice between RINO and a Libertarian? Oh SH–! Is it really any surprise the Liberal News media carried that story?

By requiring the primary and the petitions so early, we have unnecessarily eliminated perfectly good candidates (Compared to Obama, it is silly to say otherwise.). If one of us wants to call Gingrich’s and Perry’s campaigns inept, it’s our right, but we have no chance of getting on the ballot. Anyone who can even come close deserve some respect. What the fact only Romney and Paul qualified indicates is that we have set the bar absurdly high.

What we need to consider here is how the government of The Commonwealth of Virginia, led by incumbent politicians, has abused its authority. Instead of members of Republican Party deciding how they will choose their candidates, incumbent politicians have taken over the process.  Thus, it now appears that Republicans in Virginia will have no real choice.

Consider how our electoral system has evolved. At first incumbent politicians rigged the system to exclude almost any possibility a third party candidate might win. Now the incumbents have succeeded in severely limiting who can qualify to run in a primary election. If this progression continues, we will eventually have one party elections with one candidate.

What this fiasco should help point out are the constitutional issues. When the incumbents control how political parties pick their candidates, the majority of voters lose any opportunity to select the candidate they might otherwise elect. That person may never even appear on the ballot.

What are the constitutional issues? In this post, REVIVING AN OLD POST=> ON POLITICAL PARTIES: WHY WE NEED CONVENTIONS, I review the constitutional issues in more detail.

Here are a couple of news articles on the subject.

Other Views

Bearing Drift‘s Norm Leahy leads the criticism in Virginia stages the nation’s first presidential primary. Take note of the date of this first presidential primary. On November 6, 2012, we will elect our next president. Yet what Leahy calls the first presidential primary, December 22, 2011. That is the date the petitions were due to qualify for the Virginia’s March 6h presidential primary (see here). Yet because of the 2012 Republican Presidential Debates, candidates have been soaring and fizzling in the polls, and one has only recently been persuaded to enter the fray. Yet in Virginia the Republican nomination is for all practical purposes now a settled matter.

Therefore, Virginia Virtucon asks Is this any way to choose a Presidential Candidate?

SWAC Girl notes in Game changer for Newt? Name will not appear on Virginia ballot what the rest of us should be able to readily observe.

Sounding all too much like those Republicans happy with only Romney and Paul on the Virginia ballot, Democrat blogs offered their “bipartisan” opinions. DemRulz explains Getting on the Primary Ballot in Virginia. The Richmonder writes In defense of Virginia’s ballot petitions.


Here is a list (in no particular order) of the blogs I enjoyed the most in the past year. To each I wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

A greeting from the email chain.

This came from a friend at Christmas and thought I would pass it along.

You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to be offended by the phrase, ‘One nation, under God..’

You might be a redneck if: You’ve enjoyed seeing the 10 Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say ‘ Christmas’ instead of ‘Winter Festival.’

You might be a redneck if:
You bow your head when someone prays.

You might be a redneck if:
You stand and place your hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem

You might be a redneck if: You treat our armed forces veterans with great respect, and always have.

You might be a redneck if: You’ve never burned an American flag, nor intend to.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe and you aren’t afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and raised your kids to do the same.

You might be a redneck if: You’d give your last dollar to help a friend.

You might be a redneck if: You believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; and in His death, burial, and resurrection.

This email is because I believe that you, like me, have just enough Red Neck in you to have the same beliefs as those talked about above.

God Bless the USA and God Bless you and your loved ones!

Merry Christmas,

From a friend