NEW ORLEANS – Three days before Louisiana’s election, Hillary Rodham Clinton made her first campaign visit to the state in support of her former Senate colleague, three-term Democrat Mary Landrieu.

“She has a big heart, and a spine of steel,” Clinton said at a rally billed as “Moms & Grams for Mary.” The former secretary of state compared Landrieu’s efforts to secure federal funds for Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to her work, as a senator, to get aid to New York after September 11.

“She was relentless,” Clinton said to the crowd assembled at the Sugar Mill even space near the convention center. “I saw Mary in action, no cameras, no attention, just focused on her people like a laser.”

A massive turnout Tuesday among women -- who constitute almost 55 percent of Louisiana’s nearly three million voters -- is viewed as crucial to Landrieu’s success.

The Democratic senator has hosted 11 “Women for Mary” events, the most recent last week in New Orleans with almost 1,500 supporters in attendance.

“This doesn’t scare us at all,” Landrieu told her supporters. Referring to her 1996 senatorial bid, she said “this isn’t even our hardest campaign. Do you remember the first campaign when we won by 5,788 votes, 1.2 votes per precinct?”

While this was Clinton’s only Louisiana campaign visit of the season, her husband has visited the state twice, a September fundraiser and a campaign event last month.

President Obama, polling at 37 percent approval in Louisiana, has stayed away. He was barely mentioned at the almost two-hour rally, except in reference to how frequently Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy excoriates the president and Landrieu’s 97 percent record of support with her votes.

This was Clinton’s second state and campaign rally of the day. She appeared earlier in Kentucky for Alison Lundergan Grimes, whose midterm contest against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been so bruising and costly as to make the Louisiana race seem like a cakewalk.

Clinton spoke a little slower than usual, and her voice slid a bit into a Southern cadence, back in the region where she was long the first lady of Arkansas, Louisiana’s northern neighbor. “I’ve known the Landrieus for a long time, back to when Moon was mayor,” she said. Landrieu’s father was mayor of New Orleans in the 1970s. Her younger brother, Mitch, is the current mayor.

Clinton appealed to the crowd on the issue of education, especially for African-Americans, who constitute almost a third of Louisiana voters and will need to turn out in significant numbers for Landrieu to have a chance of success on Election Day.

There is little in singular Louisiana that follows national political protocol. The state has parishes, 64 in all, instead of counties. There is no spring primary. Instead, the state treats itself to a jungle primary in November. There are nine candidates for Senate on the ballot Tuesday, along with multiple other contests and 14 constitutional amendments.

If a candidate fails to win 50 percent – and not a single poll predicts any one of them will meet this mark – the two top contenders will head into a Dec. 6 runoff.

If control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance, Louisiana can expect a fresh hailstorm of expensive negative campaigning and advertising.

Actually, even if control of the Senate is decided, Louisiana can expect a hailstorm of more expensive negative campaigning and advertising.