By US Daily Review Staff.
Although all of the presidential candidates who unsuccessfully sued Virginia and the state’s Republican Party to be placed on the Virginia primary ballot dropped their cases following a recent appeals court ruling denying their requests for an injunction, the lawsuit taught several lessons for campaigns, lawyers and political operatives, according to veteran campaign attorney Lee E. Goodman, a Washington, D.C.-based shareholder in national law firm LeClairRyan.
Goodman represented the Republican Party of Virginia, one of the defendants named in the case Rick Perry v. Charles Judd, et al, which ultimately went before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond. Governor Rick Perry, SpeakerNewt Gingrich, Senator Rick Santorum and Governor John Hunstman sued the state party because the party was assigned by law the legal responsibility for certifying those candidates who satisfied Virginia’s legal requirements to appear on the primary ballot. Goodman’s co-counsel was LeClairRyan partner Charles Sims.
“Governor Perry’s lawsuit will have legal and political ramifications for a long time to come, even though the lawsuit was unsuccessful in getting his name printed on the ballot,” Goodman says. He maintains that Governor Perry’s failure to qualify for the ballot, and the ensuing court challenge, taught three important lessons.
“First, for states and election administrators, Governor Perry’s legal team exposed a weakness in Virginia’s election laws,” Goodman notes. “Residency requirements and similar burdens to ballot access are constitutionally suspect. States should study each and every condition they impose upon ballot access to ensure it is absolutely necessary to advance the government’s interests. Too often, burdens on ballot access become stale, and each state should reconsider its legal burdens, including Virginia.
“Second, for lawyers who would challenge state laws,” he continues, “Governor Perry’s lawsuit proved that you cannot wait until the eleventh hour to craft post-hoc legal theories to fix every mistake made by your political team. If you wait until the eleventh hour, the die will be cast and courts are loath to upset an election in progress.
“Third, the important lesson for campaigns is that you cannot run solely on the air, by appearing at televised debates,” he concludes. “The failure of some candidates to qualify for Virginia’s ballot is symptomatic of organizational weaknesses in their campaigns. You must have an organization on the ground that is competent and detail-oriented to win an election, and ballot access is only the first test of a political organization.”