RICHMOND — With the filing deadline looming, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on Wednesday will become the last major GOP presidential contender to submit signatures to qualify for the Virginia ballot.
Rubio will submit more than 9,300 signatures — far more than the 5,000 necessary and all of them collected by volunteer signature gatherers, according to his campaign.
Nine other Republicans have qualified for the ballot in the crucial swing state, but a few long-shot candidates are still scrambling ahead of the 5 p.m. deadline Thursday.
Still outstanding are former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and — perhaps most notable, because the commonwealth is his home turf — former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III.
Virginia eased requirements for ballot access after 2012, when only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul collected enough signatures for the GOP primary. Candidates now must submit 5,000 valid signatures from qualified voters, with at least 200 from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. Last time around, the standard was 10,000 signatures from across the state, with at least 400 from each district.
Candidates who have submitted their signatures in Virginia are celebrity developer Donald Trump, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former tech executive Carly Fiorina, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), Rubio’s state chairman, was scheduled to submit the signatures to Virginia elections officials late Tuesday afternoon.