Both Democratic candidates for Governor visiting Southwest Virginia this weekend

Ralph Northam met veterans in Lynchburg Friday, Tom Perriello will be in Roanoke

ROANOKE, VA – WSLS is taking a look at the race for Governor before the primary next Tuesday. According to a poll conducted by the Washington Post, Republican Ed Gillespie is the likely nominee, with a 20 percent lead in the polls. But the Democratic primary between Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello is neck and neck. Both of those candidates chose to come to Southwest Virginia this weekend before the big day.

The two candidates have spent a significant amount of time in the Democratic strongholds of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. WSLS spoke with political analyst Dr. Ed Lynch who says now, it's time for them to reach out to voters who may still have not heard their message.

Northam began his weekend in Lynchburg, at the Monument Terrace Troop Rally, a Friday tradition in the Hill City. He says veterans have been a large focus of his during the campaign and in office.

"Our goal by 20-18 was to hire 20 thousand veterans. We've now gone through that, we're past 25 thousand and we'd like, by the end of our administration to have hired 30 thousand veterans, so we want to make sure that we do everything for our veterans," said Northam.

On Saturday, Northam's opponent, Tom Perriello, will be addressing a different constituency, heading to Roanoke for an anti-pipeline rally, a cause he supports.

"We believe a 6.7 billion dollar bet on monopolies and pipelines is taking Virginia in the exact wrong job economically. We're going to put more construction crews to work and train people to work weatherizing homes, building with methane capture, solar, wind, looking at refurbishing infrastructure. These are the real jobs of the future," said Perriello.

Lynch says this focus on Southwest Virginia this close to the election is not a coincidence.

"They think they've done pretty much everything they can in the Democratic strongholds in the state, which is Northern Virginia, and they are trying to at least reach some new voters between now and the election," said Lynch.

For both candidates, the race is close. According to the Washington Post poll, Perriello barely leads by two points. Lynch says, it will lead to higher turn-outs.

"I would suspect that there will be more Democratic votes cast in the primary and that again may give them some confidence going into November, but they need to take into account that the Democrats are much more highly motivated because of the closeness of that race," said Lynch.

Even so, Northam says he wants to see as many people at the polls as possible.

"These elections have tremendous consequences, so we all need to exercise our right to vote," said Northam.

Lynch characterizes this race as a rematch between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Northam has received endorsements from Governor McAuliffe and several other established Virginia politicians, whereas Perriello has in fact received endorsements from Bernie Sanders himself, as well as Senator Elizabeth Warren. It will be a race that WSLS 10 will be following closely starting at 5 pm on Tuesday.