By David Jacobs | The Center Square
Louisiana is electing two new members of Congress this year, though, as expected, those elections will not affect the body’s partisan makeup.
Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District is considered a safe seat for Republicans, and Democrats dominate the 2nd Congressional District. Both trends held true in Saturday’s primary election.
Louisiana does not hold party primaries. If one candidate gets more than half of the votes in the first election, the candidate wins the seat outright. If not, the top two vote-getters move on to a runoff election.
The 2nd District, which includes New Orleans and reaches into Baton Rouge, will come down to two New Orleans Democratic state senators in the April 24 runoff. Cedric Richmond was reelected to the seat last year but left Congress to join President Joe Biden’s administration.
State Sen. Troy Carter led Saturday with 36% of the vote, while Sen. Karen Carter Peterson ran second at 23% in the 15-person field. Activist Gary Chambers Jr., a Baton Rouge Democrat, finishing just out of the runoff with 21% of the vote.
Chambers and the four Republicans who collectively got about 16% of the vote could play “king/queen maker” for either Carter or Carter Peterson, John Couvillon, a political consultant and pollster, tweeted Monday. East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome endorsed Troy Carter on Monday, which could prove to be a big deal, Couvillon said.
Julia Letlow, a Republican university administrator, outpaced 11 rivals and cruised to an easy win Saturday with about 65% of the vote, earning the right to represent the 5th District. Democrat Sandra Christophe finished a second at 27%.
Letlow is the widow of Luke Letlow, who was the chief of staff for former Congressman Ralph Abraham, who represented the 5th District for three terms before retiring from Congress. Luke Letlow won the seat last year but died after a COVID-19 diagnosis days before taking office.
“What was born out of the terrible tragedy of losing my husband, Luke, has become my mission in his honor to carry the torch and serve the good people of Louisiana’s 5th district,” Julia Letlow said in a prepared statement.
The largely rural 5th District includes northeast and part of central Louisiana.
The 82nd House District in the Louisiana Legislature also will remain in Republican hands after two members of the GOP made the runoff. Republican Charles Henry stepped down from the Jefferson Parish-based seat after only about a year in office, necessitating the special election.
Metairie Republicans Eddie Connick and Laurie Schlegel advanced to the runoff with about 40% and 36% of the vote, respectively. Democrat Raymond Delaney Jr. finished third with about 25%.
In the race to represent District 4 on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Democrat Dr. Cassie Williams earned 29% of the vote and Republican Michael Melerine got 28% to make the runoff The northwest Louisiana seat is open because Republican Tony Davis stepped down.