BOISE, Idaho (AP) — As an NFL player, Jimmy Farris once raced Pro Bowl wide receiver Terrell Owens to a standstill in a 40-yard-dash match race at a college track in Atlanta, Georgia: After splitting the first two heats; the third ended in a photo-finish tie.

Now retired from football, Farris is running as a Democrat on Tuesday against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, who swept into office on a tea party wave in 2010.

With T.O., only a "gentleman's bet" was on the line; now with Labrador, the spoils are Idaho's 1st Congressional District.

For an undersized wide-receiver whose practice ethic and big heart confounded naysayers as he hung on in pro football's top echelons, sometimes as only a practice player, the race with Labrador seems tailor-made for a guy used to taking on the odds.

"He was an underdog all the time, but he always continued to bite forward," said Bill Schindler, an Atlanta business owner, Farris friend and witness to the Farris-T.O. race about a decade ago.

But Farris, a Lewiston native and University of Montana graduate who won a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots in 2002 and quit the NFL in 2009, concedes that he faces a tough fight in a heavily Republican district that covers southwestern and northern Idaho.

"As a Democrat moving to Idaho, I was definitely not looking for a place where I could win easily," he acknowledged earlier this year.

For one thing, hard campaign cash is important — and Farris doesn't have much.

In the most-recent reporting period, Labrador outraised his Democratic rival nearly eight-to-won, pulling in about $170,000.

Farris' famous hustle in practice didn't translate to winning over people with deep pockets for his latest tryout, only bringing in about $32,000 since July.

That's enough for a few radio ads but hardly the campaign war chest for the media blitz necessary to help make up Farris' name-recognition deficit, especially for a candidate who won his primary by only 639 votes — against a mentally-ill rival facing charges that she'd threatened office-supply store employees with a handgun.

Labrador, meanwhile, has become something of a darling of the conservative movement in the U.S. House, a Puerto Rican-born Mormon who ousted Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick in 2010.

In the intervening two years, Labrador has championed fiscal austerity, even taking on such In two years since sacred cows as the Idaho National Laboratory as part of his designs to trim spending and reduce the nation's deficit.

The 44-year-old from Eagle, Idaho, has criticized bipartisan efforts to reduce the deficit, arguing they only delay a solution. His targets include the so-called Simpson-Bowles plan, which would have reduced the top tax rate while financing it by repealing various tax breaks, deductions and credits.

"Simpson-Bowles is actually not a serious plan...It kicks the can down the road," Labrador said during a recent debate on Idaho Public Television. "Every time we had a deal like this in Washington, the tax increases occurred, but the spending cuts did not."

On social issues, Labrador and Farris present clear contrasts, too.

Labrador supports banning abortions, except those that could endanger the life of the mother, though he'd vote for a bill that included exemptions for rape and incest.

Farris calls this is an example of "intrusive government" and favors broader abortion rights for women.