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GOP: Perry off Virginia ballot, Gingrich unclear

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry has failed to make it onto Virginia’s March 6 Republican presidential primary ballot, and the fate of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hung in the balance, party officials said Friday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul made the ballot, they said. But Republican Party of Virginia volunteers were still working late Friday to verify signatures Gingrich had submitted to the State Board of Election.

It’s unclear how long it will take party officials to finish the process, Virginia GOP spokesman Garren Shipley said. He said it could be early Saturday before Gingrich’s status was known.

Gingrich represented Georgia in Congress for two decades, but has lived in McLean, Va., an upscale Washington suburb, while he’s worked in the private sector.

Failing to get on the ballot would be a major setback for Gingrich, who has tried to use his recent upsurge in popularity to make up for a late organizing start.

Shipley said the party was validating petitions the candidates submitted by the Thursday 5 p.m. deadline to the state elections board. It began validating signatures Friday morning.

The 10,000 registered voters must also include 400 signatures from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts.

Perry’s campaign fell short of the 10,000 signatures, the state party said.

It was unclear if Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum or former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman submitted petitions to the state board.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s Democrats said President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign gathered enough signatures to get him on the state’s primary ballot.

As he is the only candidate who qualified, the state’s Board of Elections will likely cancel the scheduled primary election.

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