The rural Appalachian region that makes up most of Ohio's 6th Congressional District is home to some of the state's most conservative voters.
It is also the state's longest congressional district, extending from Ohio's southern border with Kentucky and West Virginia along the western border with Pennsylvania as far as Mahoning County, just south of Youngstown.
Stretching across 12 counties, the district runs 325 miles along the Ohio River framing the state's western border.
The district has little race diversity -- 95.2 percent of the residents are white and 2.4 percent are black -- and much of it is part of poverty-ridden Appalachia where voters share the same conservative values as their neighbors in West Virginia and Kentucky.
Democrats in the area are more moderate than the mainstream and tend to adopt many conservative stances on issues such as guns, religion and abortion.
In 1788, Yankee settlers formed Marietta, Ohio's first city, known as the "birthplace of the Northwest Territory," along the Ohio River. Later, settlers from Virginia and West Virginia moved deeper into the state.
During the 19th century, coal mines in the hills and steel mills along the Ohio River brought short-lived prosperity to the area. But with industry and the coal-fired power plants came pollution and as the steel industry faltered, the region fell back into poverty.
Today the population is evenly split between rural and urban living, and 14 percent are considered living in poverty. According to 2000 census data, 631,000 people live in the district.
Rep. Ted Strickland, a pro-gun Democrat, has represented the culturally conservative district since 1996. He is running for governor in 2006, leaving the seat open for a competitive race between Democrat Charlie Wilson and Republican Chuck Blasdel.
Redistricting brought the addition of more Republican counties in 2002, but Strickland managed to hold onto his seat.
Historically, the counties toward the north tend to vote Democratic and the south Republican. In 2004, George Bush carried a slim lead over Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., with 51 percent to Kerry's 49.