Julia Letlow, the widow of U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, will run for the 5th Congressional District seat her husband was unable to fill because of
Julia Letlow, the widow of U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, will run for the 5th Congressional District seat her husband was unable to fill because of his COVID-19 death Dec. 29.
“Everything in my life and in my marriage has prepared me for this moment,” she said in a statement. “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.
“I am running to continue the mission Luke started — to stand up for our Christian values, to fight for our rural agricultural communities and to deliver real results to move our state forward.’’
Gov. John Bel Edwards has called a special election on March 20 to fill the seat, which came open after former Congressman Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, didn’t seek reelection to honor a three-term limit pledge.
Luke Letlow, 41, who had served as Abraham’s chief of staff, died from COVID-19 complications at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport. He would have been sworn into office Jan. 3.
Julia Letlow, 41, a Republican from Start in Richland Parish, is an executive at the University of Louisiana Monroe who was a finalist for the ULM president’s job last fall. She and her late husband have two children — Jeremiah, 3, and Jacqueline, 1.
Democrat Sandra “Candy” Christophe of Alexandria, who finished third in the Nov. 3 primary election and missed the Dec. 5 runoff election by fewer than 500 votes, announced last week she will run again.
“After much prayer, I do not feel relieved of my assignment to serve District 5 as its next U.S. Congressional Representative,” Christophe, a small business owner, said in her official announcement statement. “When elected, I will be an advocate for all and accessible to all.”
Allen Guillory Sr., a Republican from Opelousas, who owns a trucking company and who earned 7% in the Nov. 3 election, is also making another bid. “I want to be able to be an example that if you work hard you can accomplish anything,” Guillory said.
A host of other Republicans had been waiting to see if Julia Letlow would run for the seat before committing to the race.
State Sen. Stewart Cathey, R-West Monroe, State Rep. Michael Echols, R-Monroe, State Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Pineville, and Ouachita Parish Police Juror Scotty Robinson told USA Today Network they won’t run in deference to Letlow.
State Rep. Chris Turner, R-Ruston, had no comment.
State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, who lost to Luke Letlow 62% to 38% in the Dec. 5 runoff, didn’t return a call or text seeking comment.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.