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Republican Letlow Wins Louisiana House Seat; 2 Democrats Enter Runoff In Other Race

Updated March 21, 2021 at 10:44 AM ET

Republican Julia Letlow has won the Louisiana congressional seat left vacant when her husband, Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, died of complications from COVID-19 days before he would have been sworn into office.

The Associated Press called the race for Letlow on Saturday night.

"What was born out of the terrible tragedy of losing my husband, Luke, has become my mission in his honor," Letlow said in a statement Saturday night.

In another special election to fill a different U.S. House vacancy in Louisiana, two Democrats have advanced to a runoff next month, according to the Associated Press.

The contest in the 2nd Congressional District was to replace Democrat Cedric Richmond, who now works in the Biden administration as director of public engagement.

State Sen. Troy Carter, whom Richmond endorsed, topped the open primary with about 36% of the vote, according to unofficial results, while state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson narrowly came in second, with about 23% of ballots cast.

In Louisiana, all candidates for a seat compete in the same primary. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters move on to a runoff.

Carter and Peterson will go head to head in a runoff on April 24.

In the 5th Congressional District, Letlow, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, avoided a runoff by garnering nearly two-thirds of the primary vote.

The results in the two districts, which are considered safe for their respective parties, were expected, with the 2nd district race considered more likely to head to a runoff.

Democrats hold a slim majority in the U.S. House, with 219 Democrats to 211 Republicans. There are currently five vacancies. Saturday's results, with Letlow's win and the 2nd district heading to a runoff, mean House Democrats' margin will temporarily shrink.

The death of the 41-year-old Letlow came amid a spate of confirmed and suspectedcases of the coronavirus among Capitol Hill's ranks, including the February death of Texas Republican Rep. Ron Wright.

A special election to fill Wright's Texas seat is planned for May 1.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.
Ben Swasey is an editor on the Washington Desk who mostly covers politics and voting.