Two days before the deadline to submit signatures to get on the ballot, Republican Senate candidate Daniel Winslow declared that he had easily surpassed the 10,000 mark and had no doubt he would qualify for the special election primary.
Winslow, a state representative and former top aide to Governor Mitt Romney, was the first major candidate to stop and call attention to the achievement, marking the occasion with a party for supporters at Anthony’s Pier 4 and a test run of his stump speech.
Candidates have until the close of business Wednesday to submit petition sheets to city and town election officials, who have another week after that to certify the signatures and send them to the secretary of the Commonwealth for counting. Once that process is complete, the campaign to replace former senator John F. Kerry will begin in earnest.
“Three weeks ago the media was asking, could we even get to [10,000]?” Winslow said, referring to the minimum number of signatures he would need to collect to qualify. “We’re just shy of 25,000, and we owe it to you,” he told the crowd.
In a function room overlooking Boston Harbor, Winslow’s campaign manager asked volunteers to give themselves a hand for being the first campaign to plow past the minimum.
But representatives of the two Democratic candidates — US Representatives Edward J. Markey and Stephen P. Lynch — said their campaigns had also comfortably cleared the mark.
“The support for Ed’s campaign has been overwhelming,” Markey spokeswoman Giselle Barry said. “We’ve had thousands of volunteers hold hundreds of events throughout the state to collect signatures.”
Lynch spokesman Conor Yunits said: “I think it’s pretty funny that the Republican candidates are so excited that they were able to buy their signatures. Both campaigns are very proud of the grass-roots efforts that are putting our candidates on the ballot.”
The campaign for Republican Gabriel E. Gomez, a private equity investor and former US Navy SEAL, has acknowledged hiring a firm to gather the necessary signatures and said Gomez does not plan to appear publicly until after the signature deadline.
The Winslow campaign, too, has acknowledged hiring staff to supplement their efforts.
Eric Moskowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.