McAuliffe votes in Virginia's primary election

Both candidates have pledged fierce opposition to Trump and his policies. Gillespie, in comparison, has hedged on whether he supports the president or would want his help in November - a clear general election strategy for a purple state that's increasingly trended blue in statewide contests. The Democrats have three candidates for Lieutenant Governor but only Justin Fairfax and Susan Platt have a chance of joining Northam on the November 7th ballot. Virginia is one of only two states electing new governors this year, and the contest could serve as a preview to 2018's midterm elections.

Polls in Tuesday's primary races are open until 7 p.m.

Northam beat former congressman Tom Perriello.

Gillespie's close race with Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart came as a major surprise.

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That will be especially important for Perriello, who is counting on a wave of Democratic enthusiasm and is running without the benefit of the party infrastructure.

Northam hasn't minced words about Trump either, and in his most memorable television spot, after touting his support for gun control and how he fought a GOP push in the state legislature to require transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions, the physician bluntly calls the president of the United States a "narcissistic maniac". He energized many new-to-politics voters who oppose Trump and promised to support a grab-bag of progressive policies, like raising taxes on the wealthy, using public funds for political campaigns or mandating union membership. "I think it has bigger consequences than people imagine". Democrats can only hope to ward off an outcome that they hate.

On the Republican side, Gillespie, a moderate Washington insider, is trying to fend off under-funded but spirited campaigns from Wagner and Stewart, an avid Trump supporter. She says that Perriello is "really someone who is going to make changes to make this economy work better for hardworking families". Stewart's campaign has mostly been composed of attacks on undocumented workers, defense of Confederate monuments, and oaths of fealty to the president. Northam had always been considered the Democrats' successor to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who's prohibited by law from running for a second term. When so much is at stake, none of us can afford to sit out elections or elect the wrong candidate who is not up for the task.

"I do feel it's important for people to understand that we are there to serve the goal of the commonwealth and to serve our citizens, not for any personal gain, and I don't want anyone having any doubts about that", Gillespie said.

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Perriello ratcheted up attacks on Trump ahead of Tuesday's vote, calling the primary the "firewall against the hate and bigotry of the administration".

Perriello had the backing of Vermont Sen. Elizabeth Warren and bankrolled by Democratic super donors George Soros and Donald Sussman.

John Carr of Winchester, Va. walks into his polling place Tuesday, June 13, 2017, to vote in the Virginia Primary Election where a Republican and Democratic candidate for governor and lieutenant governor will be chosen.

Northam, a usually low-key pediatric neurologist, won running as a pragmatist with the state Democratic establishment's firm support. You would normally expect the nationally focused Perriello to have an advantage in the nationally focused D.C. suburbs.

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