(CNN) - Newt Gingrich’s plan to wage a write-in campaign for Virginia’s GOP presidential primary may be dead on arrival. Virginia state law specifically prohibits voters from writing in candidates not on the ballot in primary elections.
On Saturday, Gingrich’s campaign said it would attempt to persuade voters to write in the former House speaker’s name after the Republican Party of Virginia rejected the candidate’s petitions to appear on the primary ballot.
“We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia to pursue an aggressive write-in campaign to make sure that all the voters of Virginia are able to vote for the candidate of their choice," Gingrich's campaign director, Michael Krull, said in a written statement.
However, a section of Virginia state law dealing with elections specifically bars voters from writing in candidates in primary elections.
“At all elections except primary elections it shall be lawful for any voter to vote for any person other than the listed candidates for the office by writing or hand printing the person's name on the official ballot,” the law says.
When asked for comment, Gingrich's press secretary, R.C. Hammond, said the campaign "is currently in the process of evaluating what the options are."
Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, said Saturday that Gingrich's options could include a legal challenge.
"He could try and challenge it in court," Tobias said of the write-in law, which was put in place in the 1950s and updated in the 1970s.
Tobias was skeptical, however, that a judge would be willing to entertain the challenge.
"Elections are so sacrosanct," he said.
Ultimately, Tobias said, Gingrich's failure to gather the required number of signatures came down to a ground game, and the ability to reach registered voters in Virginia's rural congressional districts.
"It speaks to organization, and people who are successful have ground organizations, or a longer-running organization, like (former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt) Romney or (Rep. Ron) Paul," Tobias said.