The big political news today in Louisiana, as it turns out, isn’t the opening of the Louisiana legislative session which happens at noon. Instead, it’s the announcement by Luke Letlow, chief of staff to Congressman Ralph Abraham, that he’s running for Abraham’s seat representing Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.
Here was Letlow’s press release announcing the campaign…
Luke Letlow today launched his campaign for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional seat to succeed retiring Congressman Ralph Abraham. Luke is a 9th generation Louisianian from Start, Louisiana who has dedicated his life to public service and worked to protect rural Louisiana’s way of life.
A lifelong Republican, Luke has worked alongside Congressman Ralph Abraham and President Donald Trump to make sure Washington listens to real people and has helped unleash the Great American Comeback. Luke has served as Chief of Staff to Rep. Abraham throughout Abraham’s time in Congress. He commuted regularly between Washington and Louisiana, with his primary residence remaining in Louisiana. Luke will be stepping down as Chief of Staff to run for the seat.
“I’m proud to have stood alongside Congressman Ralph Abraham during his time in congress, and to have worked with him to fight for our families, farmers, and businesses,” said Luke Letlow. “I’m launching my campaign for congress today to continue that record of results for Louisiana and keep our economy moving forward. We’re just getting started.”
“Luke Letlow knows the 5th Congressional District better than anyone, and more importantly, he truly cares about the people of this district – he’s been by my side since day one – he’s been a key leader on agricultural policy, he supports our veterans, our 2nd Amendment rights, and he’ll always fight for an active military. Luke knows how to get the job done, and he has my full endorsement and support,” said Congressman Ralph Abraham.
Luke is running for congress to be a conservative voice in Washington who will get results for Louisiana, work to defeat the radical socialists and keep the economy moving forward.
Luke attended Ouachita Christian High School and received a B.S. from Louisiana Tech University in 2003. Luke and his wife, Dr. Julia Barnhill Letlow, are raising their two young children in Start, on the same land where his great-grandfather once lived and worked on as a tenant-farmer, and they worship at Covenant Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Monroe.
To mark the launch, the campaign is releasing an introductory ad airing across the district. The ad will be placed on multiple digital platforms.
Plus there was a campaign video…
So what of Letlow’s chances? Last week, when state representative Lance Harris announced, we said at the time he would have to be considered the frontrunner in the race. With Letlow in, that’s now a questionable statement seeing as though Letlow is Abraham’s choice. You’d figure a large number of voters in the 5th District, where Abraham is very popular, would be willing to go by his recommendation.
That said, Letlow has never run for an office like this. He’s known as a very smart political pro and he’s been involved with a large number of campaigns, but it isn’t necessarily the same thing when you’re the candidate as opposed to a campaign operative. We also don’t know yet what the money will look like; presumably Letlow, as a congressional chief of staff, will be able to raise a few bucks without too much trouble, but Harris can self-fund to a significant extent and that might give him an advantage.
Letlow appears to have a geographical advantage, as his hometown of Start lies due east of Monroe on U.S. 80 just north of I-20; if that doesn’t work for you, Start is between Monroe and Rayville. In other words, Letlow functions as a Monroe guy, and as we noted last week the congressional seat in question has, since it was drawn into its current posture, been held by someone from the Monroe area. Harris is an Alexandria guy, and in an electoral battle between Monroe and Alexandria, historically Monroe wins.
But this early, we’re going to say rather than pick a frontrunner in the race we’ll say Letlow and Harris looks like a competitive contest, and potentially an interesting one. With two hopeless Democrat candidates and a Ouachita Parish police juror named Scotty Robinson who our folks up that way don’t consider to be particularly well-poised to win making up the rest of the current field, those two might be the headliners. But the field probably isn’t set, as at least three Republican state legislative figures – State Reps. Jack McFarland, R-Winnfield, and Mike Johnson, R-Alexandria, and former state Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe – have been mentioned as potential entrants as well. It’s also likely there will be a Democrat entrant of some note, as former state representative Robert Johnson of Marksville and former Alexandria mayor Jacques Roy have both been bandied about as potential candidates. The seat has little chance of going Democrat, though.
Interestingly, Abraham’s gubernatorial campaign staff looks split in this race. Lionel Rainey, the Baton Rouge-based political consultant who headed Abraham’s team, is working as Harris’ consultant, while Courtney Alexander, who served as Abraham’s political director, is working on Letlow’s side.