In a special election on Saturday, Republican Julia Letlow defeated a large field of candidates in an open primary to take over the seat of her late husband, Luke, who won Louisiana’s 5th District in November, but died from COVID-19 before taking office.
“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 said in a statement hours after her dominant win, in which she carried almost 65 percent of the vote. Endorsed by former president Donald Trump, Letlow will become the first Republican woman to represent the state in Congress, where she will oppose “any increase” to the minimum wage and “fight to make sure we support and protect our Oil and Gas Industry,” according to her campaign website.
When he passed on December 30, 2020, Representative-elect Luke Letlow was the highest-ranking U.S. politician to die from the coronavirus. A little over a month later, Republican representative Ron Wright of Texas also died from COVID-19, becoming the first sitting member of Congress to be killed by the virus.
The race in Louisiana’s 5th District wasn’t the only one in the Bayou State this weekend: In the 2nd District’s open primary, two Democrats, Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson, advanced to an April 24 runoff. The winner of the race next month will fill the seat left open by Democrat Cedric Richmond, who resigned in January to join the Biden administration as the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Carter and Carter Peterson are both state senators representing New Orleans; much of the city is represented in the 2nd District, along with a gerrymandered squibble that includes Baton Rouge. Carter Peterson made the runoff by winning around 1,400 more votes than progressive Baton Rouge candidate Gary Chambers Jr.