Gingrich may miss key Ohio filing deadline

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 14:56 EDT
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Newt Gingrich at the CNBC Republican Debate. Image via AFP.
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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) may be the Republican Party’s leading candidate for their presidential nomination, but that doesn’t mean his campaign has the organization it needs to win.

In perhaps a sign of things to come, Gingrich is on track to miss today’s 4 p.m. filing deadline for the Ohio GOP primary, which requires a plethora of supporting petition signatures.

“We are going to give it our damnedest,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammand told The Washington Times. “We are going to do everything in our capacity to meet this deadline.”

Even if they do miss it, that might not matter: the Dec. 7 deadline is only an advisory from the Ohio Secretary of State, according to The Hill. Ohio law requires candidates to submit filing paperwork 90 days before the primary, but earlier this year lawmakers pushed the state’s selection process back to June. It was originally scheduled for March.

The Dec. 7 deadline, however, was kept in place just in case legislators changed their minds on the primary date, which many states have done in recent months.

Gingrich did, however, meet the deadlines this week for Tennessee and Oklahoma, the Times noted. Still, missing filing deadlines are not the kind of mistakes one might expect from a professionally-run presidential campaign.

If they fail to meet Ohio’s filing deadline, it won’t be the first team Gingrich has fumbled: the campaign also missed a filing deadline last month for the Missouri primary, although they later said that was intentional. The Missouri GOP primary is not actually the official vote; it serves as more of an advisory to caucus-goers, who pick delegates a month later.

If missing the Missouri deadline really was intentional, it might have something to do with the campaign’s finances, which have only seen marginal improvement over the last several months, according to The Washington Post.

Filing as a presidential candidate in Missouri costs $1,000, which might have been considered an optional investment by staff looking at increasingly tight budgets. After all, Gingrich spent the early portion of his campaign racking up roughly $100,000 a week in travel charges, which went unpaid for months, the paper noted.

And that’s not to speak of the candidate’s affinity for spending big bucks at jewelry company Tiffany’s, where he personally carried up to $1 million in debt.

Following the Tiffany’s revelations, and facing an ever-growing mountain of campaign debts, 18 members of team Gingrich quit em masse earlier this year. At the time, reports indicated that the campaign did not have cash on hand for the $25,000 Ames Straw Poll filing fee, or $30,000 for a list of previous Iowa caucus atendees.

Since then, Gingrich has directed staff to tighten the belt, opting to take commercial flights instead of using private aircraft, and targeting public events for appearances rather than orchestrating his own.

Recent Federal Election Commission filings show that the Gingrich campaign has stepped up its fundraising, now with $2.9 million in cash on hand, likely due to his improving fortunes in the polls as other candidates have fallen off.

Whether that will be enough to overcome former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s $32 million war chest remains unclear. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has amassed just shy of $100 million to finance his reelection campaign, and most experts expect next year’s election season to be the most expensive in American history.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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