The 14th District in Texas has become synonymous with the man who has represented it in Washington since 1997, Congressman Ron Paul. [See pictures of Ron Paul]
Now a slew of conservative candidates to replace the retiring Paul must stay mindful of his legacy while carefully crafting their own visions for the recently redistricted Texas 14th, on the Gulf of Mexico coast.
"There is obviously a Ron Paul Factor at work," says Texas-based GOP operative Matt Mackowiak.
The area remains a conservative stronghold, but largely changed from the district Paul has held.
Redistricting altered the geographic landscape, pushing the lines eastward along the coast and incorporating the more populous Jefferson County.
"This has been an interesting race partly because we are running to succeed Dr. Ron Paul," says Payton Keith, the campaign manager for candidate Jay Old, a local lawyer and a lead fundraiser in the race. "Jay is not trying to replace Ron Paul, because he knows better. They have similar philosophies, especially on economic issues, but Jay is not running to emulate Ron Paul."
Republican Felicia Harris, a Pearland city councilwoman, is ignoring the distraction and zeroing in on her own campaign.
"This district is different than what he represented," she says. "I am not trying to be anyone I am not. I am letting people draw their own conclusions on what kind of representative I would be. "
Paul took a different approach to his role in Congress. He served as more of a national leader than a local one, focusing time and energy on promoting libertarian principles rather than bringing home the bacon to Texas. [See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]
But Mark Jones, the chair of the Political Science Department at Rice University, says there is no denying Paul's national-level rejection of big government struck a chord in the 14th District.
"He had become something of an institution, so even if people disagreed with him they admired his principles," Jones says. "On the economic issues and civil liberties, they were in line with him, and they would cut him slack on foreign policy."
Paul has said he won't endorse any candidate in the competitive primary race.
The nine Republicans vying for the GOP nomination, however, are each working to promote their own brand of conservatism.
Jones points to four candidates who have a strong enough campaign organizations to earn the nomination.
Harris has raised $209,204 so far and is billing her experience working with petrochemical companies on the Texas coast as one of her greatest assets.
Rep. Randy Weber, who has raised $381,535, earned a reputation as one of the more conservative members of the Texas statehouse. The Conservative Coalition gave him the Courageous Conservative Award for his work and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility honored him with the Taxpayer's Hero Award for his fiscal conservatism.
Old is leading the race in terms of fundraising with $602,993. He is also the only candidate investing in television ad buys at this point in the race.
Michael Truncale, a former state Republican executive committee member, has a strong support system in the state's Republican Party and has raised $370,691.
"This is a district where you cannot be too conservative. This election will be decided within the Republican primary," Jones says. "This is clearly a conservative electorate. They are looking for folks who say they are true conservatives on fiscal and social issues."
It is likely the race for the GOP nomination won't end after the May 29 primary. In order to secure the nomination, a candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote, an improbable feat in a nine-person race. Strategists predict the Republican candidate will be decided in July during a runoff election between the top two primary finishers.
After that, the GOP nominee will likely face off against well-known Democrat Nick Lampson, a former Texas congressman who has represented the state's 9th and 22nd districts.