Fred Thompson's continuing non-candidacy may have had its advantages -- he's escaped scrutiny of his campaign fundraising and his personal finances, he's not had to contend with equal time issues when his movies and television shows air, and he's been able to avoid the endless series of Republican candidate debates.
But not being a candidate can have its downsides, too. And one that might pose a serious concern is his inability to start gathering the signatures needed to gain a place on various states' primary ballots.
Sources inside the Thompson camp acknowledge they could feel some pressure in several states. A September announcement could give them a short window to gather the signatures needed to get his name on the ballot.
Notable among those are Illinois and New York, both of which are due to hold Feb. 5 primaries with significant delegates at stake. Illinois requires each Republican candidate to gather at least 3,000 signatures by Dec. 5. New York requires each Republican gather 5,000 signatures from registered republicans in the state, including at least 100 signatures from at least half of the state's 29 congressional district. New York's election calendar has not been settled yet, but elections officials in Albany predicted those signatures would need to be filed sometime in late November.
There are other state's with tough requirements too. In Virginia, he'll need at least 10,000 signatures, with a minimum of 400 from each congressional district, by Dec. 14. The Virginia primary is scheduled for Feb. 12. In Michigan, he'll need to collect 11,569 names also by Dec. 14 to get on the ballot for the state's primary, which is currently slated for Feb 26.
In Indiana, he'll need to gather 4,500 signatures, with 500 coming from from each of nine congressional districts. Those must be filed by noon on Feb. 12.
Asked about the hurdles that such signature requirements pose, Thompson campaign spokeswoman Linda Rozett said: "We've been very pleased with the way the testing the waters has gone, and do not believe there are any signifiant challenge to prevent Thompson from launching a successful presidential campaign, should he decide to do that."
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