Chris Biggs, Kansas' guitar-pickin' secretary of state, has been here before.
In 2002, he took on a conservative icon for attorney general, the yee-haw abortion basher Phill Kline, and came within a beetle's footprint of pulling off an astonishing upset.
This year, Biggs, a Democrat, wants to hang onto the office that Gov. Mark Parkinson appointed him to in March. But he faces another far-right icon riding high on the issue of the day. The opponent this time is Republican Kris Kobach, who has scored headlines far and wide for his adamant opposition to illegal immigration.
The contrasts only begin with their parties.
Kobach is a master at making news. His contribution to the writing of Arizona's intensely controversial immigration law has put a jet pack beneath his national image.
The closest Biggs comes to eye-catching is when he straps on his guitar. He was the Kansas Guitar Picking Champion in 1982, 1990 and 1994, as well as the Kansas Banjo Picking Champion in 1994.
He'll play at some campaign events, but not all.
As secretary of state, Biggs is decidedly low-key. He has a reputation as one of those rare public servants more interested in the nuts and bolts of the job than the politics of climbing yet another rung on the ladder.
Kobach decries what he calls unchecked voter fraud in the state. The problem is bad enough, he said last week, that it has changed the outcome of some close races.
Biggs said the concern is way, way overblown. "It's not a major problem," he said.
Kobach advocates ID laws that require voters to display photo identification when they vote. Biggs says the laws aren't needed.
"I think he's closing his eyes to the obvious reality," Kobach said, "that there are organizations and individuals trying to perpetuate voter fraud."
Those are just scare tactics, Biggs countered. "I hate to state this too strongly, but in my opinion he's trying to lie his way into office."
Bottom line: This is Kansas' most intriguing statewide race.
"I've never see this level of enthusiasm in a secretary of state's race," Kobach said.
The contours of the contest already are clear. Kobach is the early favorite, having run to an easy primary win over two quality opponents with 51 percent backing. Just like in 2002, polls will show the Republican, Kobach, way ahead of Biggs.
But as the race progresses, Biggs will close as Kansans wrestle with the choice.
Kobach will raise a ton of dough. Biggs will struggle.
Having been here before, Biggs knows he has to focus more on fundraising than he did in 2002. That year Kline outspent him better than 3-to-1, with Biggs' outlay not even reaching $200,000.
"It's a matter of getting the message out and making sure people have an opportunity to hear and understand the issues and know the difference between the candidates," Biggs said.
In 2002, Kline pounded Biggs in the race's final days in the Kansas City market. But Biggs was out of money and couldn't respond. He doesn't want to be in that position this time.
This one is going to be good:
"We need a man in the secretary of state's office who cares about that office, not irrelevant issues, and who's not going to make up issues to try to get the public to vote on passion or fear," Biggs said.
"He should get his facts straight," Kobach said. "It's profoundly irresponsible for him to deny what his own office has already reported (about voter fraud)," Kobach said.