Rubio makes Virginia ballot, 'did not pay for a single signature'
Rubio became the last of the high-polling Republican candidates to make Virginia's Super Tuesday ballot when he submitted more than 9,300 signatures Wednesday, many more than the 5,000 required under Virginia law.
All but two Republican candidates have qualified in Virginia. On the Democratic side, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley submitted signatures Thursday morning, becoming the last of the three remaining Democrats to get on the ballot in Old Dominion.
Thursday is the deadline for candidates to make the Virginia ballot.
"We did not pay for a single signature," Rubio's Virginia campaign chairman, Del. Tim Hugo (R-Centerville), said in a statement on behalf of the campaign, stating that this was contrary to common practice among statewide candidates.
"This campaign will be about the future," Hugo said, "and we will be announcing additional members of the Marco Rubio for Virginia campaign in the coming days.”
Rubio sits in third place in the RealClear Politics national polling average with 14.8 percent support, behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 15.5 percent and billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump at 29.3 percent.
He also held third place, with 11 percent support, in a Nov. 16 University of Mary Washington poll of likely Virginia Republican primary voters.
The first-term senator does better in a matchup with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Rubio beats the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state by a 1.6-percentage-point lead in the RealClear Politics average.
Thursday, Dec. 10 is the deadline for candidates to file the required 5,000 signatures of registered voters, with 200 signatures from each of the commonwealth's congressional districts.
Virginia's restrictive ballot-access requirements caused a political storm in 2012, when only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the Super Tuesday ballot in Virginia. Richmond subsequently halved its requirements.
The 2016 race, by contrast, has seen a bumper crop of candidates qualify. On the Republican side, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, along with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, filed the required signatures Thursday morning. Only former Govs. Jim Gilmore of Virginia and George Pataki of New York have yet to file.
Neither the Gilmore nor the Pataki campaigns qualified for the primary ballots in Alabama and Arkansas, raising questions about the viability of their campaigns.
Gilmore campaign advisor Boyd Marcus, who served as chief of staff during Gilmore's governorship, told AMI Newswire the campaign was focusing its efforts "on the major early states, like New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia and Florida."
Marcus said Gilmore "will compete all the way to the convention."
The Pataki campaign did not respond to requests for comment.