Gun control activist fails to qualify for congressional primary

It’s a story from my own back yard (or at least my own congressional district) on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, where we’re focusing on the failure to launch of gun control activist Andy Parker’s bid to become a U.S. Representative.

Parker, who launched his campaign earlier this year with national attention and support from long-time Democratic political operatives, won’t be on the ballot for the Democratic primary in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District after he failed to get the required number of signatures needed to become an official candidate.

As a result, Josh Throneburg, Parker’s Democratic opponent in the primary race, claimed the nomination in a statement Monday night, saying the Virginia 5th District Democratic Committee informed him he would be the only Democratic candidate on the ballot. The chairwoman confirmed that Wednesday.

“I was the sole candidate to fulfill all of the requirements to run, including submitting 1000 petition signatures from Fifth District voters, which means we’ll bypass a primary this year,” he wrote in a message on Facebook. “I’ve been a candidate in this race for over a year, and I’m thrilled that I’ll be challenging Bob Good in November.”

… Candidates need 1,000 signatures from voters in their district to qualify to be on the ballot. According to the Virginia Democratic Party, Parker submitted 1,093 signatures to qualify, but only 937 were valid.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Parker said that his campaign would be taking “a few days to perform a forensic audit on our petition signatures. When that is complete we will explore our options.”

Parker would have been a long shot to win the general election in November, but I’m honestly shocked by his campaign’s incompetence in not being able to get 1,000 valid signatures. This wasn’t supposed to be some fly-by-night, seat-of-the-pants effort on Parker’s part, at least not according to reports from outlets like CBS News, which covered Parker’s campaign announcement in January.

His campaign team includes a former media consultant for former President Obama’s presidential campaigns and a campaign manager for Democrat John Kerry’s unsuccessful 2004 presidential bid. Chris Hurst, the boyfriend of Parker’s late daughter and former Virginia state representative, is also helping run the campaign.

You’d think that gun control groups like Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action would have been involved in gathering signature’s for Parker’s campaign, especially since he’s appeared in commercials for Everytown. Either those groups shied away from actively supporting his effort or their grassroots were completely ineffective at mobilizing even a modicum of support for Parker, but either way, it looks like there won’t be a Democratic primary in Virginia’s Fifth District this year.

There won’t be a Republican primary either, because our GOP committee has decided to hold a convention instead rather than actually let Republican voters directly choose our candidate, but that’s a topic for another day (and probably another website).

Whether incumbent congressman Bob Good gets the nod or the nomination goes to one of his challengers, the Republican is going to be the odds-on favorite come November. Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District is a reliably Republican seat and it’s become slightly more red under the latest redistricting maps approved earlier this year, so gun control was never going to be a winning issue for Parker, despite folks’ personal sympathies for the devastating loss of his daughter at the hands of one of her former co-workers. Still, the fact that Parker couldn’t even get enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot in the Democratic primary is surprising to me, and I can’t help but wonder what it says about the real power of gun control’s supposed grassroots organizers.