House Incumbents Win in Louisiana; Runoff for Empty Seat
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Four incumbent Republicans and an incumbent Democrat all won reelection to the U.S. House in Tuesday’s election, while a race to replace a Republican who is stepping down from Congress will be settled in a December runoff.
Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham is stepping down from his northeast Louisiana-based district. Nine people sought to fill the open seat. His chief of staff, Luke Letlow, was assured a runoff spot, but it was unclear late Tuesday whether he would face another Republican or a Democrat.
Also on the ballot, along with the races for president and U.S. Senate, were seven proposed changes to the Louisiana Constitution, including one to make sure nothing in the document is construed as granting women the right to abortion.
5th Congressional District
Abraham, an unsuccessful candidate for governor last year, is keeping a self-imposed term-limits vow, bowing out of the House after three terms as the representative from a sprawling northeast Louisiana-based district.
He endorsed his chief of staff, Luke Letlow, as his replacement and Letlow garnered support from others in the Republican House delegation. Letlow led the field of nine as returns rolled in but he could not garner more than 50% of the vote.
Vying for second place, and a runoff spot, were Republican Lance Harris and Democrat Sandra Christophe.
Federal Election Commission reports showed Letlow with a strong funding advantage over his competitors, including Republicans Randall Scott Harrison, a member of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury; and Harris, a state representative. Democrats in the race included social worker Christophe and Martin Lemelle Jr., chief operating officer at Grambling State University.
3rd Congressional District
Two-term incumbent Republican Clay Higgins won reelection to his southwest Louisiana district.
Higgins rose to acclaim in the district as a local sheriff’s department captain who made bombastic anti-crime videos.
Since his election, he has courted controversy, most recently with a social media post promising the use of force against armed protesters that was removed by Facebook for violating the company’s violence and incitement policies.
Democrat Rob Anderson, who placed a distant second with 5% of the vote in the district two years ago, was among Higgins’ three challengers this year.
1st Congressional District
Incumbent Steve Scalise, the House Minority Whip, won reelection over two little-known challengers in the reliably Republican district — a Democrat and a Libertarian.
Scalise was first elected to the House in 2008 after 12 years in the Louisiana Legislature. Before he was elected as the Republican whip in the House, he served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative House caucus.
In 2017, he survived a serious gunshot wound after a rifle-wielding gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The gunman was killed at the scene in a battle with police.
2nd Congressional District
Incumbent Cedric Richmond, the only Democrat and the only Black member of the state congressional delegation, was leading against five little-known challengers. He has served in the House since 2011.
Before he won his congressional seat, Richmond was a state representative from New Orleans. He is a co-chair of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
4th Congressional District
Mike Johnson, an attorney who was part of the team of House Republicans who defended President Donald Trump when Trump was impeached, won a third term.
Johnson also serves as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, which touts itself as the largest caucus of conservatives in Congress.
He faced three little-known challengers: Republican Ben Gibson and Democrats Kenny Houston and Ryan Trundle.
6th Congressional District
Republican Garret Graves was first elected to represent his Baton Rouge-based south Louisiana district in 2014, spoiling a comeback attempt by four-term former Gov. Edwin Edwards, a Democrat.
He won reelection to a fourth term Tuesday, defeating three challengers: Libertarian Shannon Sloan, independent Richard Torregano and Democrat Dartanyon Williams.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1
The ballot language for the first of seven proposed amendments to Louisiana’s constitution states that “a right to abortion and the funding of abortion shall not be found in the Louisiana Constitution.” It was approved by voters Tuesday.
Analysts said passage would have little immediate effect. However, were the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights, the amendment would ensure against a court finding that the Louisiana Constitution grants abortion rights.
By AP reporter Kevin McGill