The Sixth Congressional District in Louisiana includes the state's capital, Baton Rouge. Voters will head to the polls Saturday for a special election. The majority of voters are registered Democrats but for more than three decades a Republican has held the seat.
"Most Democrats in this district wouldn't be a Democrat in Connecticut — they'd be a Republican," said John Maginnis, publisher of La Politics Weekly.
This has been a tough district for Democrats to win because they need to keep the mostly-black, liberal base, while attracting conservative whites who've become used to voting Republican.
Democrat Don Cazayoux has spent much of this campaign burnishing his conservative credentials.
"I share the values of Louisiana. I'm pro-life. Pro-Second Amendment ... pro-family," Cazayoux said at a recent debate in Baton Rouge. He also made a point of supporting presumptive Republican John McCain's gas-tax-holiday proposal.
The Republican in the race has better name recognition in the district. Louis "Woody" Jenkins was a long-time state representative. He lost a bitter race for the U.S. Senate in 1996 to Sen. Mary Landrieu. During the most recent primary, Jenkins emerged bruised after his past ties to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke became an issue.
At the debate in Baton Rouge, Jenkins referred to his opponent only once, but mentioned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly.
"We must remove Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the house," said Jenkins. He promised to vote against her for speaker and said this race is getting so much attention because it's really about an issue bigger than the Sixth District. "It's a very important race that will affect our country, because it's about who will control the Congress of the United States in the years ahead," said Jenkins.
National Republican Congressional Committee ads reinforce Jenkins' argument that a vote for Cazayoux is a vote for Pelosi. Democrats also have aired about $600,000 worth of ads in the district — all critical of Jenkins.
Republicans are fighting to hold onto this seat, especially after losing former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's Illinois seat to a Democrat in March. Democrats see a win here as a way to extend their majority in Congress.
Whoever wins will replace 11-term Rep. Richard Baker, who retired in February to become a lobbyist for hedge fund managers. That career change didn't go over well with a lot of voters. So at that debate in Baton Rouge, the candidates vowed not to become lobbyists themselves if voters send to Congress.