U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) takes questions from reporters about the relief effort in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, September 26, 2017 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez pictured at a Sept. 2016 news conference. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

Two of the Republican Party’s highest-profile Latinos are stumping for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie at a time when the Republican is fending off criticism from Latino and immigrant groups, who blast his ads about MS-13 gang violence as fear-mongering and racist.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will campaign for Gillespie in northern Virginia next Monday, headlining a get-out-the-vote rally in Sterling, a D.C. exurban town in swing Loudoun County. The event is free and open to the public.

It will come days after New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R), the nation’s first elected Latina governor, is scheduled Thursday to appear with Gillespie at business roundtables and a luncheon in northern Virginia.

“Senator Rubio and Governor Martinez are strong, conservative leaders and I am thrilled to welcome each of them back to the Commonwealth in the closing weeks of this critically important election,” Gillespie said through a spokesman.”

Their appearances on the campaign trail come as Gillespie tries to lock-up support from Republicans, moderates and independents in vote-rich northern Virginia, where Democrats have sought to drive up margins of victory in order to win statewide. Gillespie faces Democrat Ralph Northam on Nov. 7.


Ed Gillespie and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam prior to gubernatorial debate in McLean, Va. on September 19, 2017. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

On Tuesday, Latino groups announced they would air Spanish language radio ads in Virginia urging voters to support the Democratic ticket.

“It is important for the Latino community to understand the major differences between the candidates,” said Julio Lainez, state director for America’s Voice Virginia. “The hateful campaign being run by Gillespie and the Virginia Republican Party aims to divide Virginians.”

Rubio carried northern Virginia counties in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, though he narrowly lost the state to Donald Trump. He has continued to be critical of the president — a divide that Democrats played up.

“Gotta sting that Ed would rather campaign with Lil Marco than you, @realDonaldTrump,” tweeted Northam press secretary Ofirah Yheskel, referring to Trump’s nickname for his former rival during the primary.

Trump tweeted an endorsement of Gillespie, but has not indicated any plans to hit the campaign trail for him and Gillespie has been demurred when asked if he wants the president to stump for him in a state where his approval ratings are below 40 percent.

Vice President Pence, a longtime friend of Gillespie’s, joined the candidate for a rally in southwest Virginia, an area that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in November.

Northam, meanwhile, had former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden campaign with him in the last week.

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), the nation’s first Latina senator, met with a small group of Latino students at George Mason University on Monday to plug Northam’s candidacy.