This morning, an article in The Washington Times noted that Newt Gingrich’s campaign was likely to miss the Ohio filing deadline to be on the GOP primary ballot — Wednesday, December 7, 4pm EST. But that’s not the full story: that is an old deadline because the Ohio legislature recently moved its GOP presidential primary from March to June, and with it, the filing deadline. Gingrich is not missing the actual deadline.
In Ohio, the deadline for filing to be on the primary ballot is 90 days before the primary, which means that the new deadline for now-scheduled June primary is March 14, 2012.
However, the story gets a little bit complicated because the law pushing back Ohio’s primary has not yet taken effect. That means that while the deadline the Times reported on this morning is currently the formal deadline, once the new bill goes into effect in by January 20, 2012, the deadline will be moved and the old filing requirements will no longer matter.
What makes the story even more complicated, according to Matt McClellan, spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State, is that the candidates were advised by the Secretary’s office to adhere to the old December deadline just in case the legislature again changed the date of the primary (which it has done a few times in the last few months). If the legislature were to move the Presidential primary back to March — when local primaries are still being held — then “if they didn’t file by today they wouldn’t have a second opportunity - so it’s more of an advice that our office has given,” McClellan told TPM. However, he noted that because of the new primary date, “they could wait.”
The Times article noted that missing the deadline would be a sign that despite Newt’s rise in the polls, his campaign organization had some catching up to do. Moreover, it cited his critics who felt that this was typical of Newt’s erratic leadership style which was much better on big-picture strategy but lacking in discipline and attention to detail.
That’s not entirely untrue. For example, Gingrich didn’t have an office in Iowa until last week. And even though they aren’t missing what will be the real deadline in Ohio, they did miss a primary deadline in Missouri and, according to the Times, submitted forms in New Hampshire that were messy and handwritten.
Gingrich Spokesman R.C. Hammond told the Times, “We are going to give it our damnedest. We are going to do everything in our capacity to meet this deadline.” He also affirmed that the campaign was on schedule with several other state filing deadlines this month. Hammond insisted it was intentional because the Missouri caucuses a month later are where delegates are actually chosen.
It’s unclear from these comments whether the Gingrich campaign knew when the real deadline was, or whether they were scrambling to meet the “advised” deadline. Hammond was not able to comment immediately.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.