Republican Julia Letlow won Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District election Saturday in a landslide less than three months after her late husband Congressman-elect Luke Letlow died from COVID complications before he could take office.
“This is an incredible moment and it is truly hard to put into words,” Letlow said. “What was born out of the terrible tragedy of losing my husband, Luke, has become my mission in his honor to carry the torch and serve the good people of Louisiana’s 5th District.”
Letlow, who lives in rural Richland Parish in northeastern Louisiana, will become the first woman to represent Louisiana in Congress in more than six years.
She will also be the first Republican woman to ever represent Louisiana in Congress.
Letlow won the election with 65%, avoiding a runoff against Democrat Sandra “Candy” Christophe of Alexandria, who finished second with 27%.
“I will be a servant to the people of this district and be present across the 24 parishes,” she said. “I will listen more than I speak and seek to find solutions to our region’s challenges. I will partner with those across the country who can help us capitalize on our district’s strengths and bring real results home.”
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy welcomed Letlow to the fold.
“Julia offered a message that united Louisiana voters and defied predictions by winning this special election outright with a clear majority — a remarkable accomplishment among a field of 12 candidates,” McCarthy said.
Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards noted Letlow’s journey in his congratulations.
“This is a proud day for Julia, her children, all of her supporters and our state, but it is also a bittersweet day as she wins the seat opened by the passing of her late husband, Luke,” he said. “I will continue to keep her in my prayers just as she has continued to exemplify strength, determination and tenacity in the wake of a terrible tragedy. I know that these same characteristics that got her through the last few months will make her an excellent advocate for Louisiana in Washington, D.C.”
Luke Letlow, R-Start, had won the seat in a December runoff election against fellow Republican state Rep. Lance Harris of Alexandria.
But Luke Letlow contracted COVID-19 soon after his victory and died Dec. 29.
Julia Letlow, an executive at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, announced on Jan. 14 she would “pick up the torch” and run for the seat.
“Everything in my life and in my marriage has prepared me for this moment,” she said then. “My motivation is the passion Luke and I both shared: to better this region that we called home and to leave it a better place for our children and future generations.”
Julia, 41, is raising the couple’s two young children — Jeremiah, 3, and Jacqueline, 1.
She is actually replacing former Congressman Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, who didn’t seek reelection to honor a three-term limit pledge. Luke Letlow had been Abraham’s chief of staff. Abraham supported both Luke and Julia in their bids for the seat.
When Julia Letlow announced she would run, most of the state’s most powerful Republicans as well as former President Donald Trump rallied behind her candidacy.
She raised more than $1 million to fund her race, according to her campaign, and was the immediate overwhelming favorite in the race.
The only question was whether Letlow would win outright in Saturday’s primary or would be pushed to a runoff.
Louisiana’s 5th District is the largest geographically in the state covering 24 parishes. Alexandria and Monroe are the population hubs, but the boundaries dip into Acadiana to take in Opelousas and into the Florida parishes to take in Bogalusa.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.
Source: USA Today – Breaking News