From NBC's Will Brown
A day after the two Republican candidates running for Florida's open senate seat debated, the Democrat in the race, Rep. Kendrick Meek, held a conference call with reporters announcing his qualification for the election by petition.
"A Democrat qualifying by petition is historic," Meek claimed. "It's a lot to have someone sign their name and give their personal information to put me on the ballot."
Florida election law allows candidates to pay a $10,000 filing fee to qualify for the ballot or submit 112,476 signatures to the Supervisor of Elections. Meek will be the first statewide candidate to qualify by petition when his campaign submits roughly 145,000 signatures today.
Meek added that this petition will "propel the campaign forward," despite the overwhelming national focus on the Republican primary battle between Gov. Charlie Crist and former state speaker Marco Rubio.
"It gives me something they don't have," he said. "It allows me to come from the perspective of listening to Floridians and approaching this election in a way no other candidate is doing."
Meek said that he lost count of how many signatures he personally collected, but that he was "very active" in the collection process.
"We feel good about this victory and moving forward," he concluded.