Julia Letlow, a higher education professional, launched her congressional bid Thursday during an interview on KWCL-FM in Oak Grove, La., the same place where her late husband made his congressional announcement in March.
"I am running to continue the mission Luke started -- to stand up for our Christian values, to fight for our rural agricultural communities, and to deliver real results to move our state forward," Letlow, R-La., said in an announcement statement.
Luke Letlow died on Dec. 29, 2020, at the age of 41 from complications of coronavirus. He was to be sworn in on Jan. 3 to represent the 5th congressional district. He left behind his wife and two young children.
Gov. John Bel Edwards set a special election to fill out the remainder of Letlow's term for March 20.
At least two other candidates who ran for the seat in last year's election have announced they intend to compete for the job again: Sandra "Candy" Christophe, an Alexandria Democrat who finished third in the race, and Allen Guillory, an Opelousas Republican.
Julia Letlow said the couple were a team the last eight years and she traveled every corner of the northeastern and central Louisiana district with him for his successful congressional run.
"Everything in my life and in my marriage has prepared me for this moment. My motivation is the passion Luke and I both shared: to better this region that we called home and to leave it a better place for our children and future generations," Letlow said in the statement.
Julia Letlow, who has a Ph.D. in communication, works at the University of Louisiana at Monroe as top assistant to the president for external affairs and community outreach, among several jobs she's held in higher education. She's worked on political campaigns in north Louisiana and was an active participant in her husband's campaign, but she's a newcomer to running for office herself.
Letlow already picked up the endorsement of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the No. 2 House Republican. Scalise said the death of his friend, Luke, "has been nothing short of devastating" and Julia Letlow would be a welcome addition to the Louisana delegation.
"Julia shares the same commitment to public service and I can't think of anyone better to carry on Luke’s legacy in representing Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District," Scalise wrote on Twitter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.