Va. hopeful could steal votes

New York TimesNovember 3, 2012 


CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 23: Constitution Party presidential candidate Virgil Goode makes a point during a debate hosted by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation and moderated by former CNN talk-show host Larry King on October 23, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The 90-minute debate held at the Chicago Hilton hotel featured presidential candidates from the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party and Justice Party. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SCOTT OLSON — Getty Images

— Virgil Goode has absolutely no chance of winning the presidency. But here in his home state, his quixotic quest for the White House as the Constitution Party candidate could peel votes away from Mitt Romney, and that is making some Republicans nervous.

“Why would you do this?” Susan Ferreri, a small-business owner, asked Goode recently when he dropped by an Italian restaurant near Richmond to hand out leaflets and rustle up votes. “I’m against Obama, and I will go with Romney, and I just really hope you don’t upset it.”

In many states, Republicans have worked to suppress Goode’s candidacy. He is on the ballot in 26 states and is running as a write-in candidate in an additional 14. Republicans succeeded in blocking him in Pennsylvania.

But the efforts failed in the swing state of Virginia, where President Barack Obama and Romney are running neck and neck in the battle for 13 electoral votes. In the latest Fox News poll in Virginia, Goode is backed by 1 percent of likely voters.

“The problem for Romney is he is culturally so opposite from most voters in Southside Virginia that there is an area for Virgil Goode to win votes,” said David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “In 2008, there were close to 40,000 votes cast for third-party candidates in Virginia. What if Virgil Goode took 25,000 votes? That could be a potential difference-maker.”

The Romney campaign says it is not worried.

“This election is a very clear choice between two candidates,” said Rich Beeson, Romney’s political director. “We are running a campaign that will ensure Mitt Romney wins regardless of who is in the race.”

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