RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A federal judge in Richmond is refusing to add Texas Governor Rick Perry and three other candidates onto the Virginia primary ballot.
After a four hour hearing, the judge said it's simply too late in the game to add more names. One side called it a relief...the other is still considering an appeal.
No Rick Perry, no Newt Gingrich, no Rick Santorum, and no Jon Huntsman on the Virginia primary ballot. That's the ruling Friday from Hon. John Gibney.
Joe Nixon is Governor Perry's attorney.
"Disagree with the ruling but appreciate the judge's thoughtfulness and the speed with which he was able to give us a hearing," Nixon said after the hearing.
The four candidates failed to gather enough qualifying petitions late last year. So they -first Perry, then the others- filed suit: saying Virginia ballot access laws are unconstitutional, including the one about 10,000 signatures collected by Virginia residents. But they ran out of time, ballots are due out next week.
Charlie Judd, with the State Board of Elections, noted the close call.
"The judge did make some unusual observations in saying if the suit had been filed sooner he very well would have ruled in another direction. But the bottom line is there are two candidates on the republican primary ballot March 6th," Judd said.
Gibney did say the 10,000 signature requirement would withstand a possible appeal. But he also noted that the Virginia residency requirement may one day get struck down.
Perry's attorney says it shouldn't matter who gathers signatures.
"Americans deserve the right to talk to Americans about who is going to be their president," Nixon added.
But the judge said they knew the rules months ago, and failed. Complaining about the rules now, he said, was not enough to win.
A legitimate question, now, is to what extent the ruling will impact the race. With Mitt Romney winning the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire...the remaining candidates fall further behind.
Only Romney and Ron Paul will appear on the ballot. The Virginia primary takes place on Super Tuesday, March 6th.