Julia Letlow

Julia Letlow

Julia Letlow announced Thursday morning that she would run for the congressional seat her late husband, Luke Letlow, had won but never occupied as he died of COVID-related complications days before taking his oath of office.

A native of Monroe, Julia Letlow is ombudsperson and special projects coordinator for the University of Louisiana at Monroe Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, where she also has contributed to the development of the university's strategic plan.

Letlow made the announcement during an interview at KWCL-FM in Oak Grove, the same place her husband had announced his successful bid for Congress last March.

“Luke and I have been best friends and a team for the last eight years, and we always believed that you have to work hard for your dreams and often that requires stepping out and taking a leap of faith," Letlow said. “During Luke’s campaign for Congress last year, Luke and I traveled to every corner of Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District - from Bastrop to Bunkie to Bogalusa - and all points between. I met many of the hardworking people of the district and listened to the dreams and ideas they have for our district."

Congressman-elect Luke Letlow died in late December from complications of COVID-19, leaving Julia a widow with two small children in their crossroads hometown of Start.

Luke Letlow had been elected a few weeks before to the 5th Congressional District seat, which was vacated by retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham. Letlow, a former aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal, served as chief of staff to Abraham and beat out state Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, in a runoff Dec. 5th to replace Abraham on a 62% to 38% vote.

The 5th District is a mostly rural district that encompasses 24 parishes and extends from Bastrop in the far northeast of Louisiana through Alexandria to Opelousas, then east past St. Francisville through much of the Florida parishes over to Bogalusa. Of the 491,128 registered voters, 64% are White and 35% are Republican. Twenty-two percent of the voters live in Ouachita Parish and 18% live in Rapides Parish.

Sixty-four percent of the district's voters backed President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election. Trump outpolled both Letlow and Harris, together, by 60,000 votes.

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Jan. 6 called special elections for two vacant U.S. House seats, setting the contests for March 20 with April runoffs if necessary. The other open congressional seat is the one Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans will vacate next week to take a position in the White House.

Qualifying for the election, during which candidates sign up and pay the fees, will take place Jan. 20th to 22nd.