I wrote about Jim Ogonowski’s bid to take on John Kerry for the main site earlier this year. He was the favorite of both the state and national GOP to take on Kerry. Yesterday, he failed to qualify for the primary ballot, falling about 30 signatures shorts. He blames several town clerks for the failure and might pursue a legal challenge. Ogonowski could also run a write-in or sticker campaign in the primary. Or Jeff Beatty, the Republican who did qualify, could run a stronger than expected campaign. But this is a major embarrasment for the Massachusetts Republican Party and one that makes even a semi-competitive race against Kerry much less likely.
UPDATE: A commenter below points out that the Massachusetts Republican Party as an institution was officially neutral in the primary, based on the bylaws, and shouldn’t be blamed for the failure of signature-gathering. Fair enough, if we are talking about the state committee, party employees, etc. But it is pretty clear that most involved leaders in the state and national party — from the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, to the recent GOP governors, to the 2006 GOP gubernatorial candidate — were on board with Ogonowski. Thus his failure – or, if Ogonoswki is right, the town clerks’ failure — is an embarrasment to them as well.
UPDATE II: Jim Ogonowski is officially out of the race, leaving Democratic primary challenger Ed O’Reilly and Republican Jeff Beatty as Kerry’s two remaining opponents.