March 22 (UPI) — Republican Julie Letlow will take the congressional seat of her late husband in a special election Saturday for Louisiana’s 5th congressional district.
And in the 2nd District, two Democrats, Troy Carter and Carter Peterson, will advance to the April 24 runoff to fill the seat of Democrat Cedric Richmond, who resigned in January to join the administration of President Joe Biden.
Letlow, 39, will become the first Republican woman to represent Louisiana in the U.S. Congress, including the Senate. The 5th District covers rural northeastern Louisiana and much of central Louisiana, as well as the northern part of Louisiana’s Florida parishes in southeast Louisiana.
“This is an incredible moment it is truly hard to put into words,” Letlow said in a news release. 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, a first-time candidate, avoided a runoff because she surpassed majority among the 12-person field. Letlow received 67,199 votes, or 65%, with the second-place finisher Democrat Sandy “Candy” Christophe with 28,252 votes or 27%, according to Louisiana state elections.
Letlow’s husband Luke, 41, was elected to the district in November 2020 but died from complications caused by COVID-19 five days before he was due to take office in the 117th Congress. He had served as chief of staff to his predecessor Ralph Abraham.
Julie Letlow, who has a Ph.D., is executive assistant to the president for External Affairs and Community Outreach at University of Louisiana at Monroe,” according to her LinkedIn page. The couple has two young children.
The Second District serves contains nearly all of New Orleans, stretching west and north to Baton Rouge.
Carter, 48, is the state senate minority leader who received Richmond’s endorsement before he resigned from Congress. Peterson, 52, joined the state Senate in 2010 and has also served as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee after serving in the Louisiana House.
Carter received 34,396 votes, or 36% compared with Peterson 21,670 votes, or 23% followed by Democrat Gary Chambers Jr with 20,15, or 21%.
Claston Bernard had the most votes as a Republican, 9,237, or 10%.
The Democrats hold a 219-211 edge in the U.S. House 219-211 with five vacancies, including the two ones in Louisiana.