Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. (Linda Davidson)

Maryland's popular Republican governor will headline a rally for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie on Saturday in Northern Virginia, lending his support to a close and heated contest just days before the election.

"I think he's a great leader in the Republican Party," Gov. Larry Hogan, who is seeking reelection next year, said of Gillespie on Thursday at a news conference where he announced a new state effort to increase training in the field of computer science and addressed various other issues. "I'm looking forward to doing what I can to see that he wins next Tuesday."

According to the latest Washington Post-Schar School poll, Gillespie trails Democrat Ralph Northam, Virginia's lieutenant governor, by five percentage points, within the poll's margin of error. Gillespie has closed the gap in recent weeks, gaining among conservatives and supporters of President Trump, in part by sponsoring ads focused on Confederate monuments and the danger posed by the Latino MS-13 gang.

Democratic Party officials criticized Hogan's decision to participate in the racially charged campaign.

Hogan announced Thursday that he has signed an executive order, proposed legislation and allocated $5 million toward improving computer science education. The order creates a task force on Cybersecurity and Information Technology to study ways to increase and diversify the talent pipeline. The legislation would create statewide computer science standards. The $5 million will pay for teaching training and equipment.

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross, who proposed universal K-12 computer science education earlier this year, called the plan "long overdue. I'm glad to see my ideas are catching on."


Ed Gillespie. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Hogan also said Thursday that he is "anxious to get to the bottom of" allegations of widespread tampering with grades and graduation rates in Prince George's County.

The governor ordered an investigation into the allegations about five months ago and said the report is finished but he has not seen it yet. The state Board of Education is expected to release a statement on Friday about the investigation.

Hogan also said he is pushing Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) to weigh in on a ruling that a cross-shaped monument on public land in Prince George's County is unconstitutional. Supporters of the monument have asked an appeals court to revisit the case.

The state Republican Party has launched a petition calling on Frosh to "stand up for the peace cross" and file an amicus brief offering the state's position.

Hogan, who has called the ruling "an affront to all veterans," said he directed Frosh to get involved in the case more than a week ago and has not heard back from him.

"We will be continuing to pressure him to get an answer," he said.

Donna St. George contributed to this report.