Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) have qualified for the Virginia primary ballot.

Posted at 03:40 AM ET, 12/24/2011

By Anita Kumar

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Friday evening and early Saturday.

The Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday that Gingrich and Perry failed to submit 10,000 signatures of registered voters required to get their names on the ballot for the March 6 primary.

“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10k signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the party announced on Twitter.

The rejection is a significant setback for the Gingrich campaign since he is leading the polls in Virginia among likely Republican voters and is seen as a strong contender for the nomination.

Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures, and Gingrich’s campaign said it submitted 11,050 signatures. State party officials spent Friday night validating the signatures.

Earlier Friday, the Republican Party of Virginia certified former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) to appear on the ballot.

The four candidates turned in thousands of signatures by the 5 p.m. deadline Thursday.

Jerry Kilgore, former attorney general and chairman of Perry’s campaign in Virginia, said he was disappointed, but that qualifying for the Virginia ballot is a “daunting task.”

“Hopefully, he will do better in other states,’’ he said. “He can focus on other states.”

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