Republican Senate candidate Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Cassidy is the front-runner in the race against Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu, and he's hoping to maintain that position with a series of high-profile visits from GOP heavyweights in advance of the Dec. 6 election.
Louisiana's last-in-the-nation Senate race won't decide party control of the Senate. But Cassidy said voters still should view it as a way to show their displeasure with President Barack Obama's policies and continue the Republican surge in the midterm election cycle.
"This is Louisiana's chance to put an exclamation mark behind what the rest of the country has said," the GOP congressman said before early voting, with his daughter in tow.
Landrieu is trying to gain ground with attack ads against Cassidy, but she faces an uphill climb to a fourth term. Fifty-six percent of voters chose one of the Republican candidates in the Nov. 4 open primary, and Landrieu is the last Democratic statewide elected official still standing in a state trending more Republican each election cycle.
The Democratic senator has hit Cassidy with TV spots that question his fitness for office, show him stumbling over words, challenge budget cuts he's supported and describe his opposition to a minimum wage hike and equal pay legislation.
In response, Cassidy continues to tie Landrieu to the unpopular president.
Republicans have rallied strongly around Cassidy's candidacy, with a string of visits from likely GOP presidential candidates, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was in Louisiana on Tuesday, attending three rallies with Cassidy.
"It just shows that we are unified as a conservative movement," Cassidy said.
Landrieu's campaign noted that the second-largest newspaper in Perry's home state, the Houston Chronicle, endorsed Landrieu for re-election, urging Louisiana voters to send her back to Washington.
Since the Nov. 4 election, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly have campaigned for Landrieu in Louisiana, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is headlining a fundraiser for her in New York. But national Democrats have shown less enthusiasm for Landrieu's campaign than Republicans have for Cassidy's effort.
National GOP and conservative organizations have poured millions into advertising for Cassidy and against Landrieu in the runoff election, while Landrieu has been left largely on her own in the ad war.