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U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson speaks before getting a tour of the Liberty Theater on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 in Eunice, LA. The Congressman was there to find out how he can assist a committee of local residents working to save the 99-year-old cultural landmark that is closed and in need of renovations.

UPDATED at 9:15 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Michael Johnson, of Benton and chair of the conservative House Republican Study Committee on Capitol Hill, has taken a commanding lead.

With almost half the district's 749 precincts counted as well as all but three of the 15 parish northwest Louisiana district reporting early and absentee mail ballots, Johnson leads his nearest competitor by 50,000 votes, so far.

He drew three opponents in his bid for a third term representing northwest Louisiana. He appears on his way to a comfortable reelection.

The challengers were Republican Ben Gibson, of Bossier City, plus two Democratic candidates from Shreveport: Kenny Houston and Ryan Trundle.

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Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.