A smiling Attorney General Martha Coakley, holding a large cardboard box, strode across the 17th floor of a state office building this afternoon. And she delivered what she said were more than 13,000 signatures certified by local election officials, a number more than sufficient to qualify for a gubernatorial run.
As aides piled box after box on the counter of the Secretary of State’s office, Coakley spoke to employees eying the growing stack of paper.
“You guys didn’t have anything to do today anyway, right?” Coakley said.
The attorney general became the first of the 11 Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates to file in excess of the 10,000 signatures needed to qualify, according to Brian McNiff, a spokesman Secretary of State William F. Galvin.
The minor achievement adds to the superlatives of her campaign.
Public polls have found the attorney general leading her four Democratic rivals by wide margins in the primary as well as besting Republican Charlie Baker in hypothetical head-to-head matchups.
But, responding to a reporter’s questions about the dangers of being seen as the inevitable candidate, Coakley said she was working hard, running a grassroots campaign and taking nothing for granted.
“If anyone knows the risk of that, I do,” said Coakley, who shocked the political world by losing a 2010 US Senate special election to Republican Scott Brown.
“I know that the poll is yesterday’s news. I know that voters here in Massachusetts are very demanding,” she said. “They want someone who is going to work hard every day: convince them, show them that she can be a good governor. And that’s all I’m focused on.”
To make the ballot for governor, candidates must submit 10,000 signatures from registered voters. Those signatures, which must be certified by local election officials, are due for party candidates by June 3. For independent gubernatorial candidates, the deadline for submitting the signatures to the Secretary of State’s office is Aug. 26.
Republican and Democratic hopefuls must also receive at least 15 percent of votes from delegates at their respective party conventions to make the ballot.
Baker is the sole candidate for governor who won more than 15 percent of votes at the March state GOP convention, the party said. But Republican Mark R. Fisher, a Shrewsbury businessman, is disputing that result in court and is still running.
Besides the five Democrats and two Republicans vying for the Corner Office, three independent candidates and a Libertarian are also making bids.