Five candidates qualify for Massachusetts Senate primaries

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According to the Massachusetts secretary of state's office, Democratic Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch, as well as Republican state Rep. Dan Winslow, local businessman Gabriel Gomez and former George W. Bush official Michael Sullivan have all turned in substantially more signatures than required for certification.

Gomez officially kicked off his campaign on Thursday with a speech at an American Legion in Quincy, Mass., during which he introduced himself to supporters and explained his rationale for running.

"Obviously as a Republican I hold some conservative views ... but I’m an independent thinker, and I have no interest in going to Washington to engage in partisan trench warfare," he said during the speech, echoing a pitch former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) made frequently on the campaign trail, that he would be an "independent thinker" for Massachusetts.

The Boston Globe reports that Markey leads the pack in signatures with nearly 34,000 signatures as of Wednesday evening, with Lynch second slightly more than 25,000.

Sullivan had the third most signatures, with nearly 19,000, while Gomez had nearly 17,000 and Winslow had more than 13,000.

Both Winslow and Gomez hired a firm to help them collect the signatures; Sullivan relied entirely on volunteer support, and as late as Monday, his campaign was unsure it would be able to collect the needed signatures in time.

The tallies are likely to increase as city and town officials in Massachusetts verify the signatures on the nomination papers. Final tallies should be available on Wednesday.