Frontrunner Ben Carson qualifies for Virginia presidential ballot

Ben Carson will be on the ballot in Virginia, a state where he leads all other Republican presidential candidates in polls.

Carson, a retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who also ties with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the Commonwealth, became the fourth Republican candidate to qualify for the state's March 1 presidential primary ballot late Thursday.

The Carson campaign filed 14,000 signatures -- far more than the 5,000 statewide and 200 per congressional district required by Virginia law. Carson joins Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump among Republicans who have qualified for the Virginia primary. 

In a news release, Carson said his petitioning effort reflected "the movement our campaign has inspired -- a grassroots movement of We the People, united to Heal, Inspire and Revive this great nation."

A University of Mary Washington poll released earlier this week showed Carson leading the GOP field with 29 percent support among likely Republican voters. Trump is second, with 24 percent, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is third with 11 percent. 

The deadline to submit signatures in Virginia is Dec. 10. 

Rubio's Virginia campaign chairman, Del. Tim Hugo (R-Clifton), told AMI Newswire, "Our petition effort is doing fine. We're still gathering signatures, which helps build the organization, and will likely file after Thanksgiving."