Letlow’s widow enters race for Louisiana congressional seat

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Widow of Republican elected representative Luke Letlow dies of complications related to COVID-19 before he could take office, said Thursday she was entering the race to fill the Louisiana congressional vacancy left by her husband’s death.

Julia Barnhill Letlow, a Republican who lives in Richland Parish, announced the launch of her campaign in a statement and a radio interview ahead of next week’s candidate registration period for the March 20-5th election. district headquarters representing central and northeastern Louisiana.

“Everything in my life and in my marriage has prepared me for this moment. My motivation is the passion that Luke and I both shared: to improve this region we have called home and to leave it a better place for our children and future generations, ”she said in the statement.

She added, “I am running to continue the mission Luke began – defending our Christian values, fighting for our rural farming communities, and delivering concrete results to move our state forward.”

Her husband died on December 29 at the age of 41, just days before he was sworn in, cutting short what appeared to be a promising political future and leaving behind a family of two young children. Republican supporters encouraged Julia Letlow to run for the job, and she seems to line up support that had previously gone to Luke Letlow.

Julia Letlow, PhD. in communications, works at the University of Louisiana at Monroe as the President’s Senior Assistant for External Affairs and Community Outreach, among several jobs she has held in higher education. She has worked on political campaigns in northern Louisiana and was actively involved in her husband’s campaign, but she herself is a newcomer to running for office.

“During Luke’s campaign for Congress last year, Luke and I traveled all over Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District – from Bastrop to Bunkie to Bogalusa – and all points in between,” Julia Letlow said. “I have met many hard workers in the neighborhood and listened to the dreams and ideas they have for our neighborhood.”

Luke Letlow, who had no known underlying health conditions that put him at greater risk of death from COVID-19, was elected in a run-off ballot in December. He would fill the seat left vacant by his boss, Republican Ralph Abraham. He had been Abraham’s chief of staff and had run with Abraham’s support for the post.

The March 20 election in Louisiana will have two congressional races on the ballot. In addition to the 5th District contest, voters will choose someone to fill the New Orleans-based 2nd District seat after Democrat Cedric Richmond stepped down to work for President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

If no candidate exceeds 50% of the vote in the elections, the races will move to a second round on April 24.

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte.

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