RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)– Right as the clock struck noon on Monday, Senate GOP hopeful Jamie Radtke and the campaign staff of former Governor George Allen stood ready, armed with boxes upon boxes of petitions.
It was a showdown of sorts.
Both candidates hoped to be the first to submit their signed signatures to the State Board of Elections, and therefore find their name atop the Republican primary ballot on June 12.
Radtke and Allen are among two of a field of Republican candidates looking to represent their party in the race to fill retiring Senator Jim Webb’s seat.
“If you’re going to have multiple candidates, it’s always good to have your name at the top of the ballot because that’s what people see first,” said Radtke, who’s making her first run at public office.
But as SBE officials explained, because the two candidates filed at the same time they will have their names placed into a canister and drawn at random to determine ballot order.
Who wins the first spot on the ballot, however, may be overshadowed by the fact that both candidates drummed up thousands of signatures and completed the process at the earliest possible date, according to CBS 6 analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth.
“What these candidates wanted to do was to show that they are not going to go down the road that the presidential candidates did in Virginia, where they couldn’t even get enough signatures to get on the ballot,” said Holsworth.
The political expert and founder of Virginia Tomorrow was referring to the inability of several presidential hopefuls, such as Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, to amass the necessary 10,000 signatures required by Virginia law to qualify for the state’s presidential primary.
A failure to collect the minimum number of signatures should not plague either Radtke or Allen, who submitted more than 21,000 and 26,000 petitions, respectively.
“This is a [statement] to show people that we have a strong campaign,” said Radtke. “I mean, you turn in double what is needed- we found as we went door-to-door that people are looking for an alternative to two career politicians.”
Radtke’s higher-profile opponent, George Allen, has served as both Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator in his lengthy political career.
Mr. Allen did not attend the filing, but was represented by his campaign manager and political director, both of whom declined comment to CBS 6.
In a statement released Monday, Allen thanked supporters and volunteers for the nearly 27,000 signatures and added, “it’s heartening to see so much support for our positive pro-jobs growth plan of action to reinvigorate America’s entrepreneurial spirit, unleash our energy resources and rein in the over-reaching, over-spending federal government.”
Holsworth called the signature collection of both Radtke and Allen “impressive,” and explained that “it’s not an easy thing to do because you really have to have an organized effort.”
He specifically cited Radtke’s effort as laudable, given the fact that the Chesterfield mom doesn’t have the political and financial advantages of Allen and really has to utilize a ‘grassroots’ approach.
“One Saturday morning I happened to run into Jamie Radtke in Costco, where she was there with her son buying clipboards for volunteers,” said Holsworth with a smile. “They were getting ready to go out and have signature parties all afternoon.”
Holsworth also called Radtke’s campaign an “uphill” one, as she looks to best George Allen for the nomination, someone “who has been a governor, a senator and a very prominent member of the Republican Party in Virginia for 20 years.”
State Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, is also among the field of Republicans looking to secure the nomination.
Marshall told CBS 6 by phone on Monday that he’s been too preoccupied with state legislative matters to collect the necessary signatures, but that he’s in the process of doing so now.
He could not provide a date for when he plans on filing with the SBE, but the deadline for all candidates is 5 p.m. on March 29.
CBS 6 also reached out to the communications team of former Governor Tim Kaine, considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, to find out when he plans to file.
The Kaine campaign did not return our calls.