Cruz, Bush, Car­son lead GOP race for ballot ac­cess

Other Repub­li­can hope­fuls mum

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY RALPH Z. HAL­LOW

If Jeb Bush’s pop­u­lar­ity ever catches on among fel­low Repub­li­cans, he’ll find his cam­paign team has paved a smooth path to the ballot box in pri­mary states.

The for­mer Florida gov­er­nor, po­lit­i­cal new­comer Ben Car­son and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ap­pear to lead the still-crowded GOP pres­i­den­tial field by one im­por­tant mea­sure: They’ve se­cured ac­cess to the great­est num­ber of state pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion bal­lots so far.

Hav­ing the skill, money and will to ac­com­plish that is a sign of a cam­paign’s se­ri­ous­ness and com­pe­tence in the eyes of ma­jor donors and ex­pe­ri­enced po­lit­i­cal watch­ers.

Atop the ballot qual­i­fi­ca­tion leader­board sits Mr. Cruz, who has qual­i­fied in 24 states and ter­ri­to­ries, has filed in 13 more and plans to reg­is­ter soon in three more states, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign spokesman Rick Tyler. That would bring Mr. Cruz’s of­fi­cial fil­ings to 40 states and ter­ri­to­ries.

“Qual­i­fy­ing for the ballot re­quires an in­tense ef­fort and re­veals which can­di­dates are or­ga­nized and funded and which are not,” Mr. Tyler said.

The 24 se­cured ballot spots for Mr. Cruz are Iowa, New Hamp­shire, South Carolina, Ne­vada, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Min­nesota, Alaska, Maine, the Dis­trict of Columbia, Puerto Rico, North Carolina, Michi­gan, North Dakota, Guam, Ken­tucky, Kansas, Wy­oming, Amer­i­can Samoa, North­ern Mar­i­anas Is­lands, U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands, Ari­zona and Florida.

The Texas se­na­tor has filed for the ballot in Ge­or­gia, Mas­sachusetts, Ten­nessee, Mis­sis­sippi, Wis­con­sin, Con­necti­cut, Mary­land, Ne­braska, Ore­gon, Wash­ing­ton, Cal­i­for­nia, New Mex­ico and South Dakota.

The Cruz cam­paign said that it has more than 10,000 sig­na­tures to qual­ify in Vir­ginia, one of the dif­fi­cult states to qual­ify for the pri­mary ballot. Heidi Cruz, the se­na­tor’s wife, will file in Rich­mond on Dec. 1, Mr. Tyler said. The cam­paign has a sim­i­lar fil­ing event planned in Texas and will file in Idaho on Fri­day, bring­ing the Cruz un­of­fi­cial to­tal to 40 states.

Not far be­hind is Mr. Car­son, the re­tired pe­di­atric neu­ro­sur­geon who has se­cured his name on bal­lots in 21 states and ter­ri­to­ries — with New Hamp­shire and Idaho to join the list by week’s end, cam­paign man­ager Barry Ben­nett said.

When Maine is added early next week, Mr. Car­son will have se­cured ballot spots in 24 states and ter­ri­to­ries.

Al­ready in his bas­ket are South Carolina, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., the Vir­gin Is­lands, the North­ern Mar­i­anas Is­lands, Alabama, Min­nesota, Kansas, Ne­vada, Arkansas, Alaska, Ken­tucky, Michi­gan, Florida, Texas, Ari­zona, Iowa, North Dakota, Wy­oming, Colorado, Amer­i­can Samoa and Guam.

Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign is be­lieved by many to have se­cured him a spot on nearly as many state pri­mary bal­lots as Mr. Car­son and Mr. Bush, which would make the GOP front-run­ner in the polls one of the five top ballot-ac­cess per­form­ers.

But Trump cam­paign man­ager Corey Le­wandowski isn’t say­ing, ex­cept to say that loose lips on the sub­ject only help Mr. Trump’s ri­vals. The one thing he isn’t shy about re­veal­ing is that the Trump cam­paign has sub­mit­ted 16,000 sig­na­tures from Vir­ginia vot­ers, 11,000 more than the 5,000 the state’s GOP rules re­quire. Meet­ing Vir­ginia’s ballot re­quire­ments is no sim­ple feat. Only two GOP can­di­dates — Mitt Rom­ney and Ron Paul — had the re­sources to pull to­gether enough valid sig­na­tures to get their names on to the Vir­ginia ballot in 2012.

A can­di­date not on the ballot can’t grab any of the state’s 49 del­e­gates to the GOP nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion in Cleve­land next sum­mer.

Fi­nan­cial mus­cle

All but one of the top four bal­lot­se­cured can­di­dates have cam­paign or­ga­ni­za­tions and su­per PACs that are do­ing any­where from well to spec­tac­u­larly well fi­nan­cially.

Mr. Trump’s fi­nan­cial ad­van­tage rests not on a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee but rather on the bil­lions of dol­lars in his bank ac­counts and other deep wells of wealth he has promised to use to pay the bills for his march to the White House.

All but one of the four av­er­age in the dou­ble dig­its in polls of GOP pri­mary and cau­cus vot­ers — far ahead of the rest of the 14-can­di­date field.

Mr. Bush is the only one of the top four who has been lan­guish­ing in the mid­dle sin­gle-dig­its polls de­spite rave re­views the na­tion’s GOP faith­ful gave him eight years ago for his gov­er­nance of Florida.

Bush cam­paign spokes­woman Kristy Camp­bell said his or­ga­ni­za­tion has se­cured ballot ac­cess in 20 states, count­ing Iowa’s cau­cuses, and is con­duct­ing ac­cess ef­forts or del­e­gate re­cruit­ment in “at least” 12 more states, for a to­tal of 32.

Mr. Bush’s name will be on bal­lots in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Ari­zona, Florida, Ge­or­gia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Ken­tucky, Maine, Michi­gan, Min­nesota, Ne­vada, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Ver­mont and Iowa.

Paid staff and vol­un­teers are gath­er­ing sig­na­tures in Ver­mont, Delaware, Vir­ginia, In­di­ana and Alabama. Del­e­gate re­cruit­ment is un­der­way in Alabama, Ten­nessee, Illi­nois, Penn­syl­va­nia, New Jer­sey and Ohio — all states where in­di­vid­u­als com­mit­ted to a can­di­date are elected di­rectly on the ballot as del­e­gates to the nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion.

Marco Ru­bio, the se­na­tor from Mr. Bush’s home state of Florida, has been gain­ing a bit in the 2016 polls, but his cam­paign isn’t will­ing to di­vulge where the can­di­date had qual­i­fied for the ballot or where he is seek­ing ac­cess.

“We don’t dis­cuss our ballot-ac­cess strat­egy, but we’ll have qual­i­fied for about 20 bal­lots by the end of this week [and] we will be on ev­ery ballot next year,” spokesman Alex Conant wrote in an email.

The two most se­nior of­fi­cials in the cam­paign of Carly Fio­r­ina, the only woman seek­ing the GOP nom­i­na­tion, did not re­spond to re­peated re­quests for her ballot-ac­cess sta­tus.

In con­trast, Ser­gio Gor, Rand Paul’s cam­paign spokesman, re­sponded with speci­ficity.

“As of right now, we are ballot-qual­i­fied in seven states,” Mr. Gor said. “South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Michi­gan, Ne­vada, New Hamp­shire and Florida. Ad­di­tion­ally, we in­tend to be on ev­ery ballot across the na­tion, and are ac­tively work­ing to make it hap­pen.”

Mr. Gor added that the “dead­line for Vir­ginia is not un­til Dec. 10, and we ex­pect to meet all nec­es­sary re­quire­ments to ap­pear on that ballot.”

There is still time for the other can­di­dates to meet pe­ti­tion-fil­ing dead­lines in the states that re­quire can­di­dates to prove they de­serve ballot ac­cess. But the cam­paign or­ga­ni­za­tions that achieve that early get to preen for dis­cern­ing vot­ers and for those donors who have yet to take out their check­books — or are look­ing to move to an­other, more promis­ing can­di­date.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Atop the ballot qual­i­fi­ca­tion leader­board sits Sen. Ted Cruz, who has qual­i­fied in 24 states and ter­ri­to­ries, has filed in 13 more and plans to reg­is­ter soon in three more states. That would bring Mr. Cruz’s of­fi­cial fil­ings to 40 states and ter­ri­to­ries.

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