Jan 22, 2014 3:36 PM by AP
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Recognizing the rare opportunity of a wide-open race, candidates are lining up to run for the state's only vacant congressional seat on the ballot this fall, representing the Baton Rouge-based 6th District.
A half dozen people have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring their candidacy, while others say they are running and just haven't registered yet with the FEC. The 6th District seat is being vacated by GOP U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Nov. 4 election.
Among those who have filed their congressional race paperwork are four Republicans from Baton Rouge: Bob Bell, a retired Navy captain and online columnist for the Tea Party of Louisiana; state Sen. Dan Claitor, a lawyer; software company owner Paul Dietzel, grandson of a legendary former LSU football coach; and tax attorney Cassie Felder.
Two Democrats have registered: real estate broker Richard Lieberman, from LaPlace, and Quentin Anthony Anderson, a campaign manager for the Capital Area United Way from Baton Rouge.
The 6th District stretches from Pointe Coupee Parish down into Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, containing most of the metropolitan Baton Rouge area. It is considered a strong GOP base, though Democrats hope to change that.
Much of the campaign work so far has been behind the scenes, laying the groundwork, creating websites and asking for donations needed to mount a widespread effort. Advertising is scarce so far. Few campaign signs or bumper stickers are up throughout the district. Little public campaigning has been done to establish a philosophy or political message.
Dietzel has been in the race the longest and is the only candidate to file fundraising information with the FEC, showing he's raised about $117,000 through September, a figure the campaign says now tops $200,000.
Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain attended Dietzel's recent campaign rally, and the congressional contender has picked up the support of two well-known former Louisiana congressmen, Bob Livingston and Henson Moore.
Twenty-seven years old Dietzel has embraced his youth as part of his campaign pitch, saying in a statement, "Our current government isn't working, and we need the next generation to lead."
That's a similar approach taken by Felder, who is touting her political newcomer status as she tries to drum up interest and generate campaign donations.
"I am new to politics, and I know it's not a game of winners and losers," Felder said in a statement. "It's about protecting our families, our freedoms and our future."
Others considered to be potential candidates include East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman Ryan Heck and Chas Roemer, president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and son of a former governor.
Meanwhile, speculation continues that Democratic former Gov. Edwin Edwards is eyeing the race, fueled by Edwards' own family members. The 86-year-old's federal felony conviction keeps him from running for state elected offices, but not from a congressional seat.