This has been coming since the death of Congressman-Elect Luke Letlow at the end of 2020, though there had been a good deal of back and forth over whether recently-retired former Rep. Ralph Abraham might come back for one more term. But at the end of the day, Abraham isn’t running and Julia Letlow, it was announced this morning, now is.
Julia Letlow, Ph.D., announced today that she intends to run for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional Seat.
Letlow, a native of Monroe, is a mother and professional in education who has dedicated her life to promote and advocate for higher education in Louisiana. Letlow made the announcement during an interview at KWCL-FM in Oak Grove, the same place her husband Luke announced his successful bid for Congress last March.
“Luke and I have been best friends and a team for the last eight years, and we always believed that you have to work hard for your dreams and often that requires stepping out and taking a leap of faith.
“During Luke’s campaign for Congress last year, Luke and I traveled to every corner of Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District – from Bastrop to Bunkie to Bogalusa – and all points between. I met many of the hardworking people of the district and listened to the dreams and ideas they have for our district.
“Everything in my life and in my marriage has prepared me for this moment. My motivation is the passion Luke and I both shared: to better this region that we called home and to leave it a better place for our children and future generations. We live in one of the most poverty stricken districts in the United States, but God has blessed us with amazing resources: rich soil, the mighty Mississippi, and strong educational institutions – all that can be used to elevate this district out of poverty. I am running 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,’’ said Julia Letlow.
In case you’re not familiar with her background, there is this…
Julia Letlow graduated from the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM), with a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in speech communication. After completing her doctorate in communication from the University of South Florida, she returned to ULM as the ombudsperson and special projects coordinator for the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs where she contributed to the development of the university’s strategic plan.
Julia served as the executive director of external affairs and strategic communications at ULM from 2018 to 2019, and prior served as the director of marketing and communications for the university. She previously served at the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans as the director of education, director of resident patient safety and quality improvement and a clinical instructor of anesthesiology. She has also served as an instructor and teaching associate at ULM, Tulane University, and the University of South Florida.
Julia has an accomplished career as an executive-level administrator in higher education. She is a forward-thinking visionary with a strong leadership philosophy and the ability to motivate others. She is an expert in developing marketing campaigns and media relations and experienced in building strategic relationships with federal, state, and local elected officials and has proven fiscal responsibility with large budgets, has teaching and research experience in health communication, and has useful public speaking, planning, organizational, and fundraising skills. Julia Letlow, is raising her two young children in Start, LA, and they worship at Covenant Presbyterian Church(EPC) in Monroe.
Who else is getting into the race? On the Republican side, probably nobody – though given that this is the one year in every four years when there aren’t any major elections in Louisiana (presidential and congressional races happen in the even numbered years and we’re two years out from the next statewide cycle), you never know whether one of the state’s political consultants might gin up a client to run in a special election race like this one in order to catch a bonus paycheck in a dry season.
There will be a Democrat, most likely, and Julia will absolutely thrash him or her.
People really like her, and she has an almost unfair advantage with respect to the sympathy vote given the tragedy of Luke’s death. There’s a precedent in Louisiana history for the widow of a congressman taking far too soon to take his place; Lindy Boggs spent more than 20 years as New Orleans’ representative in Congress after Hale Boggs was killed in a plane crash. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Julia turned into the Republican Lindy Boggs.
The key thing is the 5th District needs some stability. It’s the poorest of the state’s congressional districts, and it’s the most rural. It’s the one which badly needs a congressman who can stay in office for a while, acquire some seniority and clout, and bring home lots of federal swag. Rodney Alexander was able to do that, but since his retirement in 2012 there will now be four successors in eight years – Vance McAllister, Abraham, Luke Letlow and now, we imagine, Julia Letlow.
Of course, the other issue is that later this year there will be redistricting, and with the 5th District losing population over the last 10 years it’s going to get harder and harder to maintain it. It’s going to have to grow geographically and there will be some pressure to redraw it altogether.
But for now, there’s a candidate to fill the seat and we would expect she’ll win easily.