Former Vice President Joe Biden took selfies with supporters at a Democratic rally in Sterling on Sunday. “You determine what’s going to happen in 2020,” he told the crowd.

STERLING — Former Vice President Joe Biden rallied campaign workers in Loudoun County on Sunday, lending a hand to state Democrats seeking control of the Virginia legislature when voters take to the polls Tuesday.

Biden, among the top-tier Democratic presidential candidates, sought to raise the stakes of Virginia’s statehouse elections, telling a crowd of roughly 300 that success for Democrats here would set the pace for a defeat of President Donald Trump in 2020.

“You determine what’s going to happen in 2020, and that’s not hyperbole,” said Biden, who was joined by former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “Literally, whether we get rid of the most corrupt administration in American history ... is going to depend on what happens here.”

Biden’s anti-Trump message came a day after Vice President Mike Pence stumped for Republicans in Virginia Beach, telling supporters of his party that maintaining GOP control in the legislature is important to Trump’s agenda.

Republicans in Virginia are defending slim majorities, holding a 51-48 edge in the House of Delegates and a 20-19 edge in the state Senate, with one seat vacant in each chamber.

On Sunday and throughout the campaign cycle, Biden and some of the state’s Democrats have sought to put the president front and center to energize their base during an off-off-year election known for low turnout. The president, whose disapproval rating consistently outpaces his approval rating in Virginia polls, has not taken a prominent role in Republicans’ message during this year’s legislative elections.

“Virginians aren’t going to be fooled again ... by these Republicans, who for the longest time out here have acted like they are Democrats,” Biden said. “It’s like reverse Halloween.”

Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, who introduced Biden, also sought to put Trump front and center, telling rallygoers: “If we get the result on Tuesday that we think we’re going to get ... I guarantee you that Republican crowd on Capitol Hill is going to jump off that ship like rats on a burning boat.”

Samantha Cotten, regional communications director for Trump’s re-election campaign, said in a statement that Virginia Democrats “continue to show how radical they have become by bringing in Joe Biden to stump for them on the campaign trail.”

She added, “The contrast on the ballot could not be more clear and Virginians will reject the Democrats’ far-left agenda on Tuesday.”

For all of their vitriol for Trump, Democrats on Sunday also focused on policy goals they said have stalled under Republican control of the General Assembly.

House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, focused on gun control legislation, climate protection, the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and anti-discrimination legislation to protect LGBTQ Virginians.

“Last night, we all turned back the clocks,” she said. “On Tuesday, we’re going to move Virginia forward.”

Biden tossed a barb at Republicans over their abrupt adjournment of the July 9 special session on gun control convened by Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat.

“Along come the special session, and what do they do? In two hours, they walk out,” Biden said of the session, which saw no votes on any gun-related proposals.

Biden shook hands and posed for photos after the event. Party officials said he then planned to travel to McAuliffe’s Fairfax home for a fundraiser to support his presidential campaign.

During an August fundraising visit to Richmond, Biden said that he would not be seeking the presidency if not for the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville in August 2017 and Trump’s response to it.

Biden is among an array of high-profile campaigners who have made a late push to boost Democrats’ bid to take control of the legislature in Tuesday’s elections.

On Monday, another leading Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is scheduled to do a campaign event with Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, who faces a challenge from Republican Ian Lovejoy, a member of the Manassas City Council.

Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary is on March 3, Super Tuesday. More than a dozen states will vote that day, including California, Texas and North Carolina.

Sunday’s event in Sterling was meant to rally canvassers for the campaigns of Del. John Bell, D-Loudoun, and Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Clarke, according to party officials.

Bell faces Republican Geary Higgins, a Loudoun County supervisor, for the seat of retiring Sen. Richard Black, a conservative Republican who has represented the district since 2012.

The 13th Senate District is chiefly in Loudoun, with a quarter of its voters in Prince William County. The district has backed Democrats in statewide elections since 2016, when Hillary Clinton carried the 13th by 6 percentage points.

In House District 10, Gooditis is facing Republican Randy Minchew, a former delegate whom she defeated for the seat by about 4 percentage points in 2017. The district is chiefly in Loudoun, but about 15% of its voters are in Frederick County and about 5% in Clarke County.

Minchew held the seat from 2012 to 2018. The Virginia Public Access Project reports that the House Democratic Caucus gave Gooditis’ campaign a $100,000 donation on Friday as she tries to retain the seat.

In Richmond on Sunday evening, actress Kerry Washington and Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, were to headline Care in Action’s Black Women Vote Rally. It was to feature Democratic candidates such as Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond; Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg; Ghazala Hashmi, who is taking on Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Chesterfield; and Sheila Bynum-Coleman, who is challenging House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights.

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mleonor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6254

Twitter: @MelLeonor_

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