This story has been edited from its original version.
CULPEPER — James Carr, the Libertarian candidate for the 7th District congressional seat, is in a frantic race to qualify for the quickly approved special election recently requested by Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-Henrico, to fill the last two months of his unexpired term.
The State Board of Elections is making no concessions either, requiring Carr to get another 1,000 signatures before his name can appear on the ballot in the special election, being held on the same day as the general election, Nov. 4.
According to Virginia law, only independent candidates — and not major political party nominees — have to collect the signatures to qualify in a general or special election. Carr, of Troy, already met the requirement a first time, but now has to do it all over again for the special election — and only had 10 days to do so.
According to his campaign, the second batch of 1,000 signatures of registered voters in the 7th District has to be submitted in its entirety by 5 p.m. Friday.
“The ballot process, while time-consuming, is at least somewhat reasonable in the general election cycle,” Carr said in a statement Tuesday. “Given the extraordinarily truncated timeframe we have been given to meet the signature requirements and the fact that my entire team is composed of volunteers who have full-time careers, 10 days with only a single weekend is not reasonably sufficient to gather 1,000 signatures.”
The state elections board turned down the candidate’s request to ease the requirements, citing state law.
“Nothing in the code gives the state board or any other administrative entity the authority to relax or otherwise alter the aforementioned statutory requirements,” according to a statement from Rose Mansfield, an executive assistant in the election board’s office in Richmond.
“As such, it is not within the scope of the board’s power to accommodate the requests made by independent candidates, even given the compressed schedule imposed by this special election.”
Carr said he has asked both 7th District GOP nominee Dave Brat, of Henrico, and Democratic nominee Jack Trammell, of Mineral, to ask their supporters to collect signatures on his behalf “so we can continue to have a fair and even playing field in this election.”
Voters in the 7th District, which includes Louisa and Orange counties, will have the opportunity to vote twice in the congressional election Nov. 4 — once for the special election to fill Cantor’s unexpired term through early January and once to elect the district’s next representative to a two-year term that begins Jan. 3.
Carr has taken the relatively monumental task of getting another 1,000 signatures by Friday to social media and his campaign website.
He said that on Monday he submitted the signatures he had collected so far, but that the state elections board told him he had to turn in the total 1,000 before his candidacy would be accepted.
Cantor, who stepped down as House majority leader after his primary defeat, announced recently that he will vacate his seat entirely next week.
On Sunday, district Democrats unanimously nominated Trammell as the candidate for the special election.
“While the other party fights to decide how entrapped they will be with a rigid ideology and a known extremist, Democrats have come together for Jack, knowing he can best represent the mainstream of Virginia’s 7th District,” said Abbi Easter, chairwoman of the district’s Democratic Committee.
On Thursday, state Republicans are expected to formally nominate Brat as the GOP nominee in the special election after he already received endorsements from the GOP committee chairs in every county in the district, according to a Tuesday news release from the Brat campaign.
Cantor, whom Brat beat in the June primary, is endorsing his former opponent.
He said, “I hope Republicans will join me in supporting Dave Brat to be the Republican nominee for the special election on Nov. 4.”
Brat said in a statement, “I’ve said since the beginning of my campaign that my purpose is to unify the different parts of the Republican Party, and we’ve worked very hard to do that.”
He said he’s been able to do that through the special-election process, as that he’s also received endorsements from every state senator and delegate representing 7th District constituents.
Brat said if elected in the special election and general election, he would be able to begin his work in Congress two months earlier, “vote on important legislation during the critical lame duck session and jumpstart our fight to turn the economy around and begin reducing the overreach of the federal government in our everyday lives.”
The GOP mass meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen. A Republican can register to seek the nomination at the meeting for a $2,500 fee, which the Brat campaign said he had already paid.
If no challenger files by noon today, the mass meeting will be canceled and Brat will get the nomination.