ARLINGTON, Va. — Newt Gingrich said on Wednesday that his campaign has been “scrambling” to get his name on the ballot in Virginia and that he was prepared to “turn in vastly more signatures” than required by state law.
The filing deadline to get a candidate’s name on the Virginia ballot is Thursday at 5 p.m. A candidate must submit 10,000 signatures of registered Virginia voters, including at least 400 from each of the state’s 11 Congressional districts.
Gingrich campaign aides said they have met all the necessary requirements to get their candidate’s name on the ballot for the state’s March 6 primary.
“Once again, Virginia is going to disappoint the Republican establishment ’cause we’re going to turn in vastly more signatures than they need,” Gingrich said at a rally in Arlington.
Gingrich told reporters earlier this week in Iowa that his campaign had been “scrambling” to get on the ballot and told reporters he “hoped” to make it.
“Some candidates have been running for five or six years; they’ve raised millions and millions and they’re better organized than I am,” Gingrich said. “We’ve got a lot of popular support. The challenge is, can we get that popular support organized fast enough?”
In an attempt to help the signature-gathering effort along, Gingrich made a last-minute change to his schedule to be on hand at a signature drive and rally in northern Virginia on Wednesday night, and he plans to hold two other events in the state on Thursday.
The signatures must be delivered to the state board of elections by Thursday night’s deadline. From there they will be transferred in sealed boxes to the Virginia Republican Party, which is responsible for verifying their authenticity and tallying them. That process won’t begin until Friday morning.
The state board of elections recommends that candidates gather more than the required number of signatures. The Gingrich campaign did not have a count on the total so far.
Though Gingrich told reporters in Manchester, N.H., on Wednesday that he would “personally” deliver the signatures, campaign officials said he will not.
Throughout the week Gingrich and his campaign aides have acknowledged their struggle to make their way onto ballots — they missed the deadline for Missouri’s non-binding primary and nearly met the same fate in Ohio.
“We barely made it in Ohio,” Gingrich said. “We may barely make in Virginia, but we’re trying to get all of our people organized in the next 48 hours.”
Gingrich said that the campaign was about 60 days ahead of where he thought they would originally be at this point and now the campaign is “playing catch-up.”
“We were hoping we’d be one of the top four in Iowa and probably do pretty well by the time we got to South Carolina,” he said. “But a couple of weeks ago we became front runner and we weren’t ready for it yet because we didn’t have the structure and didn’t have the money to compete at that level. So we’ve had to scramble a little bit.”
At the rally in Arlington, campaign volunteer Karla Bruno said she had been gathering signatures since October. Bruno said the campaign had more than 200 volunteers across the state working on the effort.
“We were confident the whole time,” Bruno said. “Now we’re getting extra signatures, we want more.”
Elizabeth Hartfield contributed to this report.