Dec. 8, 2020 — Luke Letlow, who had served as chief of staff to Louisiana 5th District incumbent Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto) up until the time he announced his candidacy to replace the retiring congressman, convincingly won Saturday’s double-Republican runoff election to claim the open seat contest as we noted yesterday.
With his victory, Letlow becomes the 212th Republican heading toward the new session of Congress with one campaign uncalled (NY-22) and another being challenged (IA-2). Majority Democrats currently have 222 clinched seats.
Letlow defeated state Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria), 62-38 percent, winning all but one of the district’s 24 parishes. At total of 79,309 voters participated in the runoff election, a 15 percent turnout of the district’s 528,278 registered voters. The Letlow victory margin was just over 19,000 votes.
In the original “blanket primary” election on Nov. 3, Letlow placed first with 33 percent of the vote as compared to Rep. Harris’ 17 percent to create the double Republican secondary election. Harris slipped past Democrat Candy Christophe by 428 votes in the original vote in order to qualify for the runoff and effectively secure the seat for the Republicans. The Nov. 3 election saw a 5th District turnout rate of 70.1 percent.
The “blanket primary” is the phrase Louisianans use to describe the system more commonly described as a “jungle primary.” That is, all candidates appear on the same ballot regardless of political party affiliation and the top two advance into a runoff election if no one receives majority support in the original vote. The Bayou State was the first to adopt this system and originally did so in 1978.