The importance of next week’s special election for an open congressional seat in upstate New York is increasingly being felt nationwide — including in Northern Virginia.

Democrats are hoping to steal the seat previously occupied by Rep. Chris Lee (R), who resigned in February after a racy photo he took of himself surfaced on the Internet. Though the seat leans strongly toward the GOP, Democrat Kathy Hochul has a chance to win because tea-party-backed Jack Davis (I) appears to be siphoning support from Republican Jane Corwin.

With both parties mobilizing ahead of next Tuesday’s contest, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) is getting in on the act.

In an e-mail to his supporters Tuesday, Connolly wrote: “This election is neck-and-neck, and every vote will make the difference. In 2009, Democrats won a similar special election in New York by just 726 votes. We need your help to make sure every Democrat gets to the polls on Election Day.

“I will be hosting a phone bank for Kathy Hochul at my campaign office in Fairfax City on Thursday, May 19th from 6 - 9 PM. Can you join us and donate an hour or two of your time to help Kathy cross the finish line?”

Connolly added that he will be making a few calls to New York voters himself Thursday night, and he made a reference to his 981-vote reelection victory last November. “As my own election showed,” Connolly said, “in a Congressional race every vote counts.”