Voters in Louisiana Weigh in on Year’s First Special Congressional Elections

March 20, 2021 by Dan McCue
A New Orleans scene. (Photo by Dan McCue)

Saturday was special election day in Louisiana, where 15 candidates were in the running to represent the state’s 5th Congressional District and 12 were vying for a seat in Congress in the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

The election in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District was called to fill the vacancy left by Republican Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s coronavirus-related death just days before he was to be sworn in as a member of the 117th Congress.

Julia Letlow, the widow of the congressman-elect, is projected to be the winner in that contest, garnering the support of 64.9% of voters as of early Sunday morning. The only Democrat in the race, Candy Christophe, came in a distant second, with 27.3%.

On Saturday morning, former President Donald Trump weighed in from Mar-a-Lago, his South Florida home, to endorse Letlow, calling her “outstanding and so necessary to help save our Second Amendment, at the Border, and for our Military and Vets. 

“Louisiana, get out and vote today—she will never disappoint! Julia has my Complete and Total Endorsement,” Trump said.

Most of the other candidates in the race were also Republicans. They were Chad Conerly, Allen Guillory Sr., Robert Lansden, Jaycee Magnuson, Horace Melton, Richard Pannell, Sancha Smith, and Errol Victor.

Jim Davis and M.V. Mendoza, both independents, were also running.

The contest in the 2nd Congressional District is to fill the vacancy left by former Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat, who resigned to take a position in the White House as a senior advisor to President Joe Biden and the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

This race is now headed to an April general election between Democrats Troy Carter, who garnered 36.4% of the vote, and Karen Peterson, who received 22.9%.

Prior to the 2020 general election, most political pollsters rated the district solidly Democratic.

Richmond, who had represented the district since 2011, won the most recent election with 63.9% of the vote. The seat has been occupied by a Democrat in all years except 2008-2010, when it was held by Republican Joseph Cao.

Though 15 candidates were vying for the seat, attention from local news outlets long suggested the contest was a race between Democrats Carter, Peterson, and Gary Chambers.

The other Democrats seeking the seat were Harold John, J. Christopher Johnson, Lloyd Kelly, Desiree Ontiveros, and Jenette Porter.   

The Republicans in the race were Chelsea Ardoin, Claston Bernard, Greg Lirette, and Sheldon Vincent Sr. 

Mindy McConnell ran as the Liberal candidate, and Belden Batiste and Brandon Jolicoeur ran as Independents

According to Ballotpedia, Louisiana elections use a majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation. The general election will be held on April 24, 2021.

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