Former party chairmen support emergency changes to VA primary

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Another new turn Wednesday in the fight to fix so-called "problems" in the way Virginians nominate candidates for president. Two former state party chairmen are calling for some serious changes; an emergency bill that would, in theory, get more leading candidates on the ballot.

You won't see Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and others on the March 6 primary ballot in Virginia. They didn't get enough signatures, and they say Virginia makes it too tough. Wednesday, former state chairmen for both republicans and democrats were not making excuses.

"It was, in terms of petition collection, the most incompetent performance we've seen!" said Paul Goldman, former state democratic chairman.

Goldman and Pat McSweeney instead called on state lawmakers to pass an emergency bill, making it easier, right now, for legitimate candidates to get their names on the ballot. But, in order to get absentee ballots ready in time, state lawmakers would have to pass a bill almost immediately after they convene in January.

On Tuesday, the house majority leader put the chances of that happening at "zero to none."

"I just don't see it happening," said Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights).

On the steps of the state capitol, the former chairmen suggested otherwise.

PAUL: "We could sit down tomorrow in an hour and come up with the legislation that we're gonna have. Then, everybody  would know what's gonna get passed and they could even start printing the ballots."

ANDY: "In a perfect would, yeah.  But are they going to do that?"

PAT: "If there's a will to do it, it can be done. It's a readily fixable problem."

Even if the so-called "fix" takes place, Governor Bob McDonnell would then have to sign it.

Wednesday, spokesperson Tucker Martin said "He is always open to reviewing how Virginia's primary system can be improved," adding that if the legislature made a change "…the Governor would review those changes thoroughly and take action at the appropriate time."

Right now, only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney's names will be on the March 6 ballot. Rick Perry is filing motions in federal court to try and get his name on as well.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.