Richmond, Virginia (CNN) – Newt Gingrich is campaigning in his home state Thursday after collecting 10,000 signatures needed to get on Virginia's primary ballot.
According to his campaign, they met the threshold yesterday but Gingrich told party faithful at a state GOP fundraising breakfast they expect to deliver petitions this afternoon with anywhere from 12,000-14,000 signatures.
A Gingrich spokesperson said the visit to Virginia was to help "push us over the top" and demonstrate the campaign's ground game capabilities compared to well-funded Mitt Romney.
"It's a demonstration that Gingrich is outrunning Romney in states beyond Iowa," said press secretary R.C. Hammond.
As all of the Republican presidential candidates race to meet Virginia's Thursday deadline, a new poll out Wednesday shows Gingrich topping Romney in the state ( http://on.cnn.com/w09wtS).
The Virginia primary is on March 6, Super Tuesday.
Hammond said they've been relying on a "network of hundreds of volunteers" in states that have high signature requirements to get on the ballot. He also acknowledged they paid a small percentage of volunteers to help with the process, which he said is not unusual.
Sources tell CNN that many of the volunteers gathering signatures were paid, which is not unusual in politics but reflects the extent of the effort.
Carla Bruno, who is volunteering for the Gingrich campaign in Virginia, said she's been helping get the required 400 certified registered voters from each of the 11 districts, including at least 10,000 signatures from across the state.
Gingrich met with Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell prior to speaking and taking questions from approximately 200 breakfast attendees.
In an interview, McDonnell said he is staying "neutral and very much an observer of the race." Asked if he was going to endorse before the primary he said "I'm still weighing that. I'm neutral.
"I want the most principled, conservative candidate but also the one that can appeal best to independent voters because that's who's going to determine the election."
President Barack Obama won the state in 2008. He was the first Democrat to do so since 1964.
- CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby contributed to this report.
- Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN.