Republican Julia Letlow won Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District election in a landslide on Saturday less than three months after her late husband, Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, died of COVID complications before taking office.
Letlow, who lives in the rural town of Richland, northeast Louisiana, will be the first woman to represent Louisiana in Congress in more than six years.
She will also be the first Republican woman to represent Louisiana in Congress.
USA Today Network predicts Letlow will win Saturday’s primary with 65% to avoid a runoff against Alexandrian Democrat Sandra “Candy” Christophe, who finished second with 27%.
Luke Letlow had won the seat in a runoff election in December against the Republican compatriot Lance Harris from Alexandria.
But Luke Letlow contracted COVID-19 shortly after his victory and died on December 29th.
Julia Letlow, an executive at the University of Louisiana in Monroe, announced on Jan. 14 that she would “pick up the torch” and run for the seat.
“Everything in my life and in my marriage prepared me for this moment,” she said then. “My motivation is the passion Luke and I both shared: improving this region that we have called home and making it a better place for us children and future generations. “
Julia, 41, is raising the couple’s two young children – Jeremiah (3) and Jacqueline (1).
She replaces former MP Ralph Abraham, a Republican who has not asked for re-election to keep a three-time limit pledge. Luke Letlow had been Abraham’s chief of staff. Abraham assisted both Luke and Julia with their offers for the seat.
When Julia Letlow announced that she would run, most of the most powerful Republicans in the state, as well as former President Donald Trump, rallied behind her candidacy.
She raised over $ 1 million to fund her campaign, according to her campaign, and was the immediate overwhelming favorite in the race.
The only question was whether Letlow would win the primary on Saturday or end up in a runoff.
The 5th District of Louisiana is the largest geographically in the state and includes 24 parishes. Alexandria and Monroe are the population centers, but the borders extend to Acadiana to include Opelousas and the Florida parishes to include Bogalusa.
Greg Hilburn reports on the state policy of the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @ GregHilburn1.