The Latest: Trump lends last-minute help to Gillespie

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on Election Day in Virginia, including the races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general (all times local):
4:40 p.m.
President Donald Trump is lending last-minute support to Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia’s closely watched race for governor.
Trump recorded robocalls to help boost Gillespie supporters on Election Day. Gillespie is facing Democrat Ralph Northam in a contest that many view as an early referendum on the president’s political popularity.
In one call, Trump says Gillespie shared his views on immigration and crime and would help “Make America Great Again.” Trump also says Northam would be a “total disaster” for Virginia.
Gillespie has largely kept the president at a distance throughout the contest and did not campaign with Trump. Virginia is the only southern state Trump lost last year.
2:55 p.m.
Early voter numbers are up in Virginia’s closely watched race for governor while polling places around the state are reporting a steady turnout.
Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes says Virginia had a “substantially higher” number of early voters in this year’s closely watched race for governor than in recent past gubernatorial contests.
The 180,000 absentee ballots returned as of Sunday were 60,000 more than all absentee votes cast in the 2013 gubernatorial election.
Generally speaking, Democrats tend to do better in Virginia with a greater turnout.
Fairfax County, a large, reliably Democratic county in Northern Virginia, reported that voter turnout as of 2 p.m. was 30.6 percent
1:45 p.m.
Hillary Clinton has tweeted her support for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northum.
In a Tuesday morning tweet, the former presidential candidate urged Virginia residents to vote and get Northum “across the finish line.”
The former Secretary of State headlined a fundraiser for Northam in New York last month.
In the same tweet, Clinton also endorsed incumbent Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Justin Fairfax, who is running for lieutenant governor.
Clinton’s tweets came hours after her political rival, President Donald Trump, sent out a series of tweets from South Korea to support Northum’s opponent Ed Gillespie.
Clinton won the state by five percentage points in 2016, but Republicans typically are more likely to turn out in off-year statewide elections. Northam has led in most polls, but the race is close.
12 p.m.
The NAACP says voters in northern Virginia have received phone calls from people who are lying to them by saying their polling place has changed.
The Prince William County chapter of the NAACP wrote on its Facebook page Monday that the calls are fraudulent and an attempt to suppress the vote as Virginians choose their new governor Tuesday.
The NAACP says the out-of-area calls have been reported in Prince William County, as well as in Manassas and Manassas Park.
Hillary Clinton received about 5 percent more votes in Prince William County than Donald Trump did during the 2016 presidential election.
The NAACP says voter protection services are aware of the issue.
The organization urges anyone who receives suspicious calls to dial the voter protection hotline: 1-844-4VA-VOTE.
11:30 a.m.
Republican Ed Gillespie said he appreciates President Donald Trump’s support after the commander in chief backed the Virginia gubernatorial candidate in a series of early morning tweets.
Gillespie made the comment to reporters Tuesday morning after he arrived at his local polling station in Alexandria to cast his ballot.
In order to get to the elementary school gym and vote, Gillespie had to drive by a huge inflatable balloon of a chicken that resembles Trump.
Throughout the closely contested race, Gillespie has kept Trump at an arm’s distance while mimicking his policies on certain social issues. In particular, Gillespie has pledged tougher policies for immigrants in the country illegally and blasted his opponent Ralph Northam for the Democrat’s support of so-called sanctuary cities.
10:10 a.m.
A friendly crowd greeted Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam and his wife as they arrived at their local polling station to cast their ballots.
Northam hugged cheering voters Tuesday morning at a Norfolk community center, thanking them for their support during the closely watched race. A few dozen voters were there.
He and Republican Ed Gillespie have been locked in a heated battle to succeed Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who cannot seek a second term.
Virginia is one of only two states electing a new governor this year, and the contest is viewed by many as an early referendum on President Donald Trump’s political popularity.
Democrats are eager to prove they can harness anti-Trump energy into success at the polls, while Republicans are looking to show they have a winning blueprint in a blue-leaning state.
9:10 a.m.
Thousands of Virginia voters have already cast their ballots for governor this morning, driven by a wide range of issues.
At Jahnke Road Baptist Church in suburban Richmond, 39-year-old Angelica Bega said she wasn’t sure who she would vote for until she was handed a ballot, but she ultimately voted for Democrat Ralph Northam.
As an “issues-driven voter,” she says she said it was “very frustrating” to see so many attack ads. She said Ed Gillespie’s attempt to make immigration such a big part of the campaign frustrated her and was a factor in her decision to vote for his opponent.
Emogene and Jimmy Babb, both 74, voted straight Republican at a rural polling station in Windsor, Virginia.
They said there wasn’t any one particular issue that drove them to the polls. But they said they shared Gillespie’s positions on gun rights and not removing Confederate statues.
“We don’t need a governor who is going to take our guns away,” Jimmy Babb said.
7:15 a.m.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter once again to back Republican Virginia gubernatorial Ed Gillespie minutes before the polls opened across the state.
In a series of early morning tweets Tuesday, Trump said Gillespie will crack down on crime and improve the state’s economy.
Trump tweeted that Gillespie’s Democratic opponent Ralph Northam is “weak on crime” and against the Second Amendment. Northam, an Army veteran, says he grew up hunting and wants common-sense gun laws.
Polls show a tight race to succeed Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Virginia is the only Southern state that Trump lost last year.
6:00 a.m.
Polls have opened in Virginia as the state picks a new governor in a race that’s being closely watched nationwide.
Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam have been locked in a heated race to succeed Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who cannot seek a second term. The contest is viewed by many as a referendum on President Donald Trump and a possible preview of the 2018 midterm elections. Libertarian Cliff Hyra is also running.
Virginians will also elect a new state attorney general race and lieutenant governor. Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking a second term. He’s being challenged by Republican John Adams.
Democrat Justin Fairfax and Republican Jill Vogel are competing to be the next lieutenant governor.
All 100 state House seats are also up for grabs.