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McAuliffe gathers more than 35,000 signatures in quest for governor

RICHMOND — A day ahead of the deadline, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has turned in more than 35,000 signatures in his bid to become Virginia’s next governor.

McAuliffe delivered the 35,746 petition signatures to the State Board of Elections on Wednesday, a requirement to appear on the primary ballot under state law. Candidates for statewide office must submit signatures from at least 10,000 qualified voters — including 400 from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts — by 5 p.m. Thursday to qualify for the primary ballot.

McAuliffe, a businessman who formerly headed the Democratic National Committee, is the only Democrat seeking his party’s gubernatorial nomination. State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is the presumptive Republican nominee in this year’s race.

Because the Republican Party of Virginia voted to choose its nominee through their convention and not in a primary contest, Cuccinelli does not have to obtain signatures. (White House party crasher Tareq Salahi, an independent candidate for governor, must gather 10,000 valid signatures by June 11 to appear on the general election ballot in November.)

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Cuccinelli and McAuliffe in a dead heat at 40 percent and 38 percent, respectively. But most voters asked said they didn’t know enough about either candidate to make an opinion.

Terry McAuliffe, left, and Ken Cuccinelli II. (The Associated Press)

Cuccinelli’s favorability rating was 30 percent to 24 percent, with 44 percent responding the didn’t know enough about the attorney general, who was elected in 2009. McAuliffe, who also ran for governor four years ago but lost in the Democratic primary, had a favorability rating of 20 percent to 16 percent, with 63 percent of respondents saying they didn’t know enough about him.

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