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William Jefferson... still in Congress

From NBC's Doug Adams
Remember William Jefferson, the Louisiana congressman who was indicted last year on bribery, racketeering and money laundering charges?

Well, he's still in Congress, and he's likely to stay there for a while.

Technically, Jefferson still has to win a Dec. 6th runoff in Louisiana. But his opponent, little known Republican lawyer Anh "Joseph" Cao, stands little chance in Louisiana's heavily Democratic second congressional district.

Ironically, Jefferson's long-delayed federal trial is also likely to start that week -- Dec. 2nd in Virginia.

Last week, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for the trial to start -- upholding his indictment by ruling that Jefferson's rights weren't violated when the grand jury received evidence that violated legislative immunity.

While normally, a federal corruption trial would be a detriment to winning re-election, Jefferson has shown repeatedly that he is popular in his district. He is seen by constituents as being a key figure in helping his district, which represents New Orleans and surrounding suburban parishes, rebound from Hurricane Katrina.

On Capitol Hill though, Democrats have already tried to marginalize him. They removed him from the prominent Ways and Means Committee. Speaker Pelosi did allow him to be on the Homeland Security Committee, arguing that it was an "appropriate" seat for Jefferson, given the committee's jurisdiction over Katrina-related matters.

But it's unclear if Democrats would allow that again in the new Congress. The House Ethics committee will also take up his case if he is found guilty.