For the first time in Florida history a candidate for a statewide race has qualified by petition. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami has become the first candidate to successfully complete the petition process, by collecting over 140,000 petitions. Going above and beyond the necessary 112,476 signatures, Rep. Meek has secured himself a place in the Florida history books. ``I thought it was very, very important that the people of the state of Florida place my name on the ballot to be the next U.S. senator,'' Meek said of his decision to seek signatures rather than pay the $10,000 filing fee. ``And I thought it was important for me to listen to the needs of Florida, from Escambia County to Monroe County. I knew it would make me a better candidate and a better senator.''