Tag Archives: Louisiana

Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 26, 2021 — Filing for the March 20 special congressional elections to fill the two Louisiana vacant seats, Districts 2 and 5, closed on Friday, meaning that the participating candidates are now identified.

Louisiana Republican Rep.-Elect Luke Letlow’s widow, Julia Letlow, is running for her late husband’s seat.

In the 2nd District, the New Orleans-anchored seat that stretches northward to include part of Baton Rouge, we see 15 individuals filing. The locals, however, highlight three significant Democratic contenders, one of whom will almost certainly be elected outright in the March 20 special primary or an April 24 runoff election should no one secure majority support in the initial vote. It is further likely that should such a runoff occur, it will involve two Democrats.

Moving northward, the vacant 5th District is open because the 2020 winner, Republican Luke Letlow, tragically passed away within three weeks of winning the December 5th runoff election. Here, 13 candidates filed to run in the special election, which was assigned the same election calendar as District 2, and Julia Letlow (R), the late congressman-elect’s widow, headlines those vying to represent the district.

Former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) resigned from the House on Jan. 15 in order to accept his White House position. Richmond was originally elected in 2010, and had little trouble holding the seat through six elections. He averaged 67.0 percent of the vote and was never forced into a secondary runoff election in Louisiana’s jungle primary system.

The district is solidly Democratic. The 2020 presidential election segmentation by congressional district for Louisiana is not yet available, but the Democratic nominee averaged 75.20 percent of the vote when combining the 2016 and 2012 results. The CD is 61.50 percent black according to the available Citizen Voting Age population data. Therefore, the chances of one of the African American candidates again winning the seat is extremely high.

The three top contenders are state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans), who Richmond has publicly endorsed as his successor, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans), and prominent Baton Rouge political activist and blogger Gary Chambers, who has the political wherewithal to attract support.

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Early House Outlook – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 21, 2021 — Continuing with our electoral stage preview for the US House, today we look at 12 states in the country’s central region. Tomorrow and the following Monday, we move further east.


• Arkansas – 4 Seats (4R)

Arkansas holds four Republican districts, and the GOP controls the redistricting pen. They will obviously attempt to draw a new map that protects all four incumbents, and they should be able to do so with relative ease as the state continues to move toward the ideological right.

Arkansas had previously received Justice Department approval to draw a map where all of its 75 counties whole within the individual congressional districts, and thus exceeding the plus-or-minus one individual congressional district population variance requirement.


• Iowa – 4 Seats (1D3R)

Iowa has a hybrid redistricting system. The legislature voluntarily cedes power to a particular legislative committee, which then draws the four congressional districts based upon a mathematical population algorithm without regard to incumbent residences or political preferences. The legislature must then approve or reject the map without amendment.

The current map has produced competitive districts as is evidenced in the 2nd District being decided by just six votes in the 2020 election. Three of the state’s four CDs have seen both Republican and Democratic representation during this decade. It is likely we will see the process produce a similar map later this year.


• Kansas – 4 Seats (1D3R)

Both parties have seats at the redistricting table as Republicans control the state House and Senate while Democrats have the governorship. Republicans will attempt to at least protect the status quo but Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly can be expected to hold out for a 2R-2D plan. Any prolonged impasse will send the map to either a state or federal court in order to produce an interim map for the coming 2022 election.


• Louisiana – 6 Seats (0D4R; 2 Vacancies)

The more immediate political task Louisiana sees is filling its two vacant congressional districts. The New Orleans-Baton Rouge 2nd District has no representation because Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) resigned to accept a White House appointment from the Biden Administration. Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R) tragically passed away after his election and before he was officially sworn into office. Therefore, both seats will be filled in a two-tiered March 20/April 24 special election calendar.

Republicans control the legislature, but Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) holds the veto pen. The number of seats will remain constant since the population appears relatively even through the state’s six districts. The 1st (Rep. Steve Scalise-R) and the 6th (Rep. Garret Graves-R) are over-populated while the 4th (Rep. Mike Johnson-R) and the 5th (Letlow vacancy) will need to gain residents.
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The Late Luke Letlow’s Widow to Run

By Jim Ellis

Late last week, Julia Letlow (above), widow of late Louisiana Republican Rep.-Elect Luke Letlow, announced that she will run for her late husband’s seat, issuing a statement saying she wants to “ … continue the mission Luke started.” Luke Letlow, 41, passed away Dec. 29, 2020 from a heart attack while battling COVID-19.

Jan. 18, 2021 — On Dec. 5, former congressional chief of staff Luke Letlow (R) won a big election victory, scoring a 62-38 percent Louisiana runoff victory to secure the 5th Congressional District seat and replace his retiring boss, retiring Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto). Just 24 days later and before even being sworn into the House, Letlow, 41, tragically passed away from cardiac arrest after contracting COVID-19.

Late last week, his widow, Julia Letlow, issued a statement saying she wants to “ … continue the mission Luke started — to stand up for our Christian values, to fight for our rural agricultural communities and to deliver real results to move our state forward.” The comments were part of her announcement declaring her own candidacy for the 5th District special election to replace her late husband.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has scheduled both the vacant 2nd District (Rep. Cedric Richmond-D has accepted a position in the Biden Administration and officially resigned from the House last Friday) and the 5th CD special elections for March 20, with a runoff on April 24 should no one receive majority support in the first vote. The candidate filing deadline for both seats is a week from today, Jan. 22.

So far, the LA-5 candidate field has been slow to form largely in anticipation of Julia Letlow becoming a contender. At this point, Democrat Candy Christophe, who missed qualifying for the regular election runoff by just 428 votes, is an announced special election candidate. The only other currently declared contender is frequent GOP candidate Allen Guillory. State Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria), who qualified for the regular runoff election and lost to Luke Letlow, has not yet indicated whether he will enter the special election campaign.

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LA-5: Letlow Wins Runoff

Luke Letlow, Louisiana (LA-5) Republican

By Jim Ellis

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.

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Friday’s LA-5 Runoff

https://youtu.be/1BUfn_Iia6oLouisiana state Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) attacks opposing candidate and fellow Republican Luke Letlow over enriching himself during his career in politics.

By Jim Ellis

Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 — The Jan. 5, 2021 Georgia US Senate runoffs are not the only post-election secondary campaign contests, even though they dominate the national political attention since their outcomes will determine the chamber majority. The nation’s other runoff election was scheduled for this past Saturday in northeastern Louisiana for the state’s 5th Congressional District.

A little background on the race: Unlike Georgia, there was no suspense as to which party wins the seat – both Louisiana contenders are Republicans – but the identity of the winning candidate was in question up till Friday.

Luke Letlow finished first on Nov. 3 (33.1 percent) from a field of nine candidates in what is termed a “blanket primary” in Louisiana but a “jungle primary” elsewhere. He also finished first Saturday, Dec. 5. More analysis tomorrow from that. The candidate field Nov. 3 consisted of five Republicans and four Democrats, and Letlow doubled the vote total of his nearest competitor. State Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) finished second (16.5 percent), qualifying for the runoff by just 428 votes over third-place finisher Candy Christophe, the top Democratic contender.

Letlow is a former chief of staff to retiring Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-Alto), who is honoring a term-limits pledge to only serve three terms. Dr. Abraham was a 2019 Republican gubernatorial candidate, losing the Republican nomination to businessman Eddie Rispone by three percentage points. Rispone would then fall to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in the November ’19 runoff on a 51-49 percent count.

Letlow served as Rep. Abraham’s chief during his entire congressional career up until the time he (Letlow) declared his own candidacy. Prior to that, the 2020 top 5th District vote-getter held a position in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.

Lance Harris is a convenience store chain business owner and farmer who was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2011. He was unopposed in his succeeding re-election campaigns, those in 2015 and 2019.

Harris’ parents were missionaries in China and became prisoners of the Communist regime. They survived captivity and were released, only to be killed in a car accident in 1984 after returning to Louisiana. Harris explains that his parents’ experience drives him to fight socialism, which is why he entered elective politics after establishing his career in business.

While the contest was fairly quiet in the blanket primary, the runoff turned combative. Harris attacked Letlow for his career in politics (see ad at top), citing in his ads that his opponent has made “over $1 million in working for politicians including Bobby Jindal” and then worked as a lobbyist.

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