Tag Archives: Rep.-Elect Luke Letlow

Alaska Rep. Young’s Passing Yields Chaotic Special Election Process

By Jim Ellis

Alaska’s At-Large Congressman, the late Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon)

March 22, 2022 — On Friday, the Dean of the House of Representatives, Alaska’s At-Large Congressman Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), passed away in an airplane flying back to his home state. The congressman, who was first elected in a 1973 special election, served in the House for 49 consecutive years, or just 14 years less than the time Alaska has been a state.

The congressman’s full and colorful national political career even began in an unusual way. As a sitting state legislator, he ran for Congress in 1972, opposite at-large Rep. Nick Begich (D). Less than a month before the election, however, Rep. Begich and then House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-LA) went down in a plane crash on a tour through the Last Frontier. With Boggs legally declared as missing, though it was imminently clear that all perished in the crash, he still defeated Young in the 1972 regular election.

Upon certification of Rep. Begich’s death, Don Young then won the succeeding special election in early 1973. He would never lose again. Coming full circle, Rep. Young’s 2022 opponent would likely have been Nick Begich III (D), the late congressman’s grandson.

While best wishes and remembrances for and about the congressional icon are coming from throughout the country, a potentially chaotic replacement process lies before the state’s governor to direct, and then for those who choose to become candidates.

Under Alaska law, a special election must be conducted to fill an electoral vacancy no less than 60 and no more than 90 days after the position is officially vacated. In this case, Young passed away on March 18. Therefore, at least the initial election must occur during the period between May 17 and June 16.

Because the state is changing its election procedure, much is unclear. An Alaska Department of Law spokesperson stated in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News that the agency personnel will review the applying statutes and prepare an advisory report for Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R).

In 2020, Alaska voters passed an initiative to change the state’s primary system. Thus, the state will now use a jungle primary format. Three other states, California, Louisiana, and Washington have jungle primaries, but in all of those places the top two finishers advance into the general election or post-election runoff. Louisiana holds its jungle primary concurrently with the regular general election so that a leading candidate with a percentage greater than 50 is elected outright.

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Special Elections Update: LA Votes

https://www.facebook.com/Karen.Carter.Peterson/videos/2521633831472770/Karen Carter Peterson promotional video.


By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2021 — Five special congressional elections are now on the political calendar, and we see current action in all.

Beginning with the two Louisiana seats, voters went to the polls Saturday in the first round of elections in the state’s 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts.

The 2nd, anchored in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is a Democratic seat left vacant when former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) was appointed to a White House position in the Biden Administration. The northeastern Louisiana Republican 5th CD became vacant when Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R), three weeks after winning the seat in a post-general runoff election, passed away from a heart attack and COVID.

The 2nd District sees 15 Democrats, Republicans, minor party, and Independent candidates all on a jungle primary ballot. The political odds favor two Democratic New Orleans state senators, Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson, advancing to a general election runoff on April 24. The tone of this week’s candidates’ ads, with Sen. Peterson already being attacked, suggest that the special general between Carter and Peterson is already underway.

Prospects were promising that we would see a winner in Saturday’s 5th District race. Though 12 candidates are on the ballot, just one has strong campaign resources and public backing. Julia Letlow (R), wife of the deceased congressman-elect, looks well positioned to exceed the majority support threshold tomorrow night meaning she would claim the seat outright.

Armed with a 9:1 fundraising lead over her closest competitor at the end of February and holding endorsements from former President Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), the Louisiana Republican Party, and the Louisiana Sheriffs of the 5th Congressional District committee, among others, Ms. Letlow appears poised to score a convincing win over a crowded field.

The first poll for the Texas special election was just released. In this 6th District race, vacated because of Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) death from cancer and COVID, a whopping 23 candidates are vying to replace the late incumbent. The first election is May 1. If no one receives majority support, which is likely, a runoff will be scheduled after the primary voters officially determine the final results.

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TX-6: Rep. Wright’s Widow to Run

By Jim Ellis

The late Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) is sworn-into Congress Jan. 3, 2021 by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) as Wright’s wife, Susan Wright, holds the Bible. Rep. Wright, 67, had been hospitalized with COVID-19; Susan Wright also had been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19. (Photo/Facebook)

Feb. 24, 2021 — The Texas Tribune newspaper broke the story this week that Susan Wright, widow of deceased Congressman Ron Wright (R-TX), will announce her candidacy as soon as this week for the yet unscheduled special election to succeed her late husband.

Ms. Wright will be the second recent widow running this year. Rep-Elect Luke Letlow’s death has led to a March 20 Louisiana special election in that state’s northeastern 5th District. Julia Letlow (R), the late-congressman-elect’s wife, is a candidate in that race and the favorite to prevail.

In US history, 39 widows have succeeded their late husbands in the House, and another eight in the Senate. One such widow, Doris Matsui (D-CA), is currently serving her ninth congressional term.

A large Republican potential field of candidates was thought to be building for the Texas special election, but with Susan Wright’s intention on becoming a candidate, that may block some of the local officials from the race. Freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), who opposed Mr. Wright in the 2018 election and forced him into a runoff, and Katrina Pierson, the former Trump campaign spokeswoman, remain likely candidates, however.

At least two Democrats, 2018 congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez and school district official Shawn Lassiter, have announced their candidacies and both are likely to remain in the race. The 2020 party nominee, Stephen Daniel, has also not ruled out running.

Now that the congressman has been laid to rest, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will schedule the special election. The most likely date will be May 1st, in order to conform with the Uniform Election Day, which hosts local elections from around the state. All 6th District candidates will be on the same ballot and if any one candidate receives majority support, that individual will be elected outright. Otherwise, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election that will be part of Abbott’s scheduling pronouncement. Assuming a May 1 special election, the secondary runoff would occur in late June or early July.

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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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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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