Luke Letlow

Luke Letlow
Official portrait of Luke Letlow smiling. He wears a navy blue suit, red tie, and an American flag lapel pin.
Member-elect of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th district
Died before assuming office
Preceded byRalph Abraham (as member)
Succeeded byJulia Letlow (as member)
Personal details
Luke Joshua Letlow

(1979-12-06)December 6, 1979
Monroe, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedDecember 29, 2020(2020-12-29) (aged 41)
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
Cause of deathComplications from COVID-19
Political partyRepublican
(m. 2013)
EducationLouisiana Tech University (BS)
WebsiteOfficial website

Luke Joshua Letlow (December 6, 1979 – December 29, 2020)[2][3] was an American politician from Louisiana. A Republican, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Louisiana's 5th congressional district in 2020 but died from complications caused by COVID-19 five days before he was due to take office in the 117th Congress. Before his election to Congress, Letlow served as chief of staff to Representative Ralph Abraham. Three months after his death, Letlow's widow Julia was elected to the vacant seat in a special election.

Early life and education

Letlow was raised in the unincorporated community of Start, east of Monroe, and was the youngest son of Dianne and Johnny Letlow. He graduated from Ouachita Christian High School and earned a Bachelor of Science in computer information systems from Louisiana Tech University in 2003.[4] As a student at Louisiana Tech, Letlow was an intern for John Cooksey in 2000 when Cooksey represented Louisiana's 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.[5] He served as chairman of the Louisiana Tech College Republicans in 2001 and of the Louisiana Federation of College Republicans in 2002.[4][5][6]


Letlow worked for Bobby Jindal during Jindal's tenure in the United States House of Representatives for Louisiana's 1st congressional district as his congressional district director from 2005 to 2008, and during Jindal's first term as governor of Louisiana as director of intergovernmental affairs from 2008 to 2010.[7] He then worked as director of government and community affairs for QEP Resources, an energy company based in Denver.[8][2] Letlow returned to Louisiana in 2014 to serve as campaign manager for Ralph Abraham during his election for Louisiana's 5th congressional district.[5] He served as Abraham's chief of staff during his three-term tenure.[6]

On March 9, 2020, after Abraham honored his pledge not to serve more than three terms, Letlow announced his candidacy.[9] Abraham publicly endorsed him concurrent with Letlow's announcement.[6] In the nonpartisan blanket primary on November 3, Letlow finished in first place with 33% of the vote, while State Representative Lance Harris, a fellow Republican, finished second with 17%.[10] Letlow won the December 5 runoff election with 62% of the vote.[11][12] The district is Louisiana's largest by area, covering most of 24 parishes, and includes Alexandria and Monroe, the population hubs, and Opelousas in Acadiana and Bogalusa in the Florida Parishes.[9]

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Letlow wore a mask only sporadically during his campaign, and was photographed speaking indoors to constituents when masks were not being worn by him or those gathered.[13] In October, he had encouraged Louisiana officials to relax pandemic restrictions, warning, "We're now at a place if we do not open our economy, we’re in real danger."[13]

Personal life and death

Letlow lived in Start, Louisiana, with his wife, Julia, and their two young children.[6]

On December 18, 2020, Letlow announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Louisiana. He was hospitalized in Monroe.[14] After his condition deteriorated, he was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) of Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport on December 23.[15] On December 29, Letlow died of complications of the virus at the age of 41.[3][14] The hospital reported that he had no underlying conditions when admitted but died in the ICU after suffering a "cardiac event" and could not be resuscitated.[16][17]

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards ordered flags in the state to be flown at half-staff on the day of Letlow's funeral.[16] He also scheduled the special election to fill Letlow's vacancy for March 20, 2021, with an April runoff if needed.[18] Julia Letlow ran in the special election,[19] and won, avoiding a runoff.[20][21]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Akin, Stephanie (December 5, 2020). "Luke Letlow Wins Runoff to Succeed His Boss, Ralph Abraham, in Louisiana's 5th District". Roll Call. Retrieved December 6, 2020. ... Letlow, who turns 41 on Sunday ...'
  3. ^ a b WDSU Digital Team (December 30, 2020). "Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dies from COVID-19". WDSU. The following statement was issued by [Andrew] Bautsch: 'Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, passed away this evening at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport due to complications from COVID-19.'
  4. ^ a b "Engagements - Luke Letlow and Julia Barnhill". The News-Star. March 24, 2013. p. 44. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Hilburn, Greg. "Luke Letlow joins congressional race with Ralph Abraham's backing". The News-Star. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d "Start resident seeks Congressional seat". Richland Beacon-News. Rayville, Louisiana. March 17, 2020. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  7. ^ groberts (December 10, 2014). "Newly elected Congressman Ralph Abraham names chief of staff for U.S. House office in DC | State Politics". The Advocate. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  8. ^ Hilburn, Greg (December 10, 2014). "Letlow named Abraham's chief of staff". The News-Star. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Hilburn, Greg (December 29, 2020). "Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dies with COVID-19". The News-Star. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  10. ^ Hilburn, Greg (November 3, 2020). "Luke Letlow, Lance Harris emerge in all-Republican runoff for 5th Congressional District". Monroe News-Star. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  11. ^ "Louisiana election results: Letlow, Harris in GOP runoff for Congress". Houma Todaym. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  12. ^ Hilburn, Greg (December 5, 2020). "Luke Letlow wins Louisiana's 5th Congressional District race". The News-Star. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Luke Letlow, GOP congressman-elect from Louisiana, dies of covid-19, Washington Post, Tim Elfrink, December 29, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Zanona, Melanie (December 29, 2020). "Louisiana congressman-elect dies of Covid". Politico. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  15. ^ "Letlow transferred to ICU for COVID-19 treatment". Associated Press. December 23, 2020. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dies after being hospitalized with coronavirus". WAFB News. December 29, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  17. ^ "Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, dies from coronavirus complications; 'we're all in disbelief'". December 29, 2020. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  18. ^ Karlin, Sam (December 30, 2020). "Election to replace Luke Letlow in Congress to be set for March, officials say". The Advocate. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  19. ^ Thrush, Glenn; Cochrane, Emily (January 14, 2021). "Julia Letlow, whose husband died of Covid-19 before being sworn into Congress, will run for the seat". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  20. ^ Pathe, Simone (March 21, 2021). "Replacing husband who died from Covid-19, Julia Letlow hopes to bring her own experience to Congress". CNN. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  21. ^ Levy, Adam; Cohen, Ethan (March 21, 2021). "Julia Letlow wins Louisiana's 5th District special election while 2nd District goes to runoff, CNN projects". CNN. Retrieved March 21, 2021.

External links


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