Jan 4 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday gave three
Republican presidential candidates permission to join Texas
Governor Rick Perry's lawsuit seeking a spot on Virginia's
primary election ballot.
Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum filed a motion
to intervene in the complaint that Perry filed after failing to
get the 10,000 verifiable signatures from Virginia voters
required for inclusion in the March 6 primary.
Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul managed to get on the Virginia ballot. Romney won the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday by a razor-thin
margin over Santorum.
Like Perry, Gingrich, Huntsman and Santorum say the state's
signature requirement violates the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Judge John Gibney Jr. granted the motion and
ordered the defendants to respond to their complaint no later
than Friday, according to court papers filed in the Eastern
District of Virginia.
A representative for Virginia's attorney general, who is
representing the board members, could not be reached for
The judge's ruling was not a big surprise, said Lee Goodman,
an attorney for defendant Patrick Mullins, who is chairman of
the Republican Party of Virginia. During a Dec. 29 hearing,
Gibney ordered the plaintiff to give notice to the other
candidates so they would have an opportunity to join the case.
"We think intervention is appropriate and certainly did not
oppose the intervention of the other candidates," Goodman said
in a phone interview. "We think one global resolution of these
legal issues is in the best interest of the candidates, the
people of Virginia and the party."
Perry sued Charles Judd, Kimberly Bowers and Don Palmer,
who are members of the Virginia Board of Elections, as well as
Mullins. On Tuesday, Mullins' attorneys filed a motion to
dismiss the complaint against him as the party chairman.
"It was the Republican Party of Virginia's desire for its
primary ballot to feature all major Republican presidential
candidates so that Virginia Republicans would have several
choices," the memorandum in support of the motion said. "But
that desire was tempered by Virginia's legal requirements, which
the Chairman was duty bound to follow."
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan.
The case is Perry v. Judd, 3:11-00856, U.S. District Court,
Eastern District of Virginia.
For Perry: Hugh Fain of Spotts Fain and James Nixon, Trey
Trainer and Martin Beirne of Beirne, Maynard & Parsons.
For Gingrich: Christian Adams of the Election Law Center
and Stefan Passantino, Randy Evans and Benjamin Keane of
McKenna Long & Aldridge.
For Hunstman: Craig Engle of Arent Fox.
For Santorum: Cleta Mitchell of Foley & Lardner.
For Judd: Earle Getchell Jr. of the U.S. Attorney's
(Reporting by Jennifer Golson)
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