Julia Letlow
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th district
Assumed office
April 14, 2021[1]
Preceded byRalph Abraham[a]
Personal details
Julia Janelle Barnhill

(1981-03-16) March 16, 1981 (age 40)
Monroe, Louisiana, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
(m. 2013; died 2020)
EducationUniversity of Louisiana at Monroe (BA, MA)
University of South Florida (PhD)
WebsiteHouse website

Julia Janelle Letlow (née Barnhill; born March 16, 1981) is an American politician and academic administrator serving as the U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 5th congressional district since 2021.[4] Letlow is the first Republican woman to represent Louisiana in Congress.[5]

Early life and education

Letlow was born Julia Janelle Barnhill on March 16, 1981, in Monroe, Louisiana. She graduated from Ouachita Christian High School.[6] She earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in speech communications from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, followed by a Doctor of Philosophy in communications from the University of South Florida in 2012. Her doctoral advisor was Jane Jorgenson. Barnhill's dissertation in 2011 was titled Giving Meaning to Grief: the Role of Rituals and Stories in Coping with Sudden Family Loss.[7] She dedicated it to her brother, Jeremy, who died in an automobile collision.[8]



She worked as director of education and patient safety for Tulane University School of Medicine.[9] In 2018, she was named director of external affairs and strategic communications for the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM).[10] In 2020, she was a finalist for the presidency of ULM.[11]

U.S. House of Representatives

Letlow's husband, Luke Letlow, was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Louisiana's 5th congressional district in the 2020 elections, but died of complications from COVID-19 infection in December 2020, prior to taking office.[12] Julia decided to run in the special election for the vacant seat in January 2021.[13] During her campaign, Letlow secured a number of high-profile endorsements, including one from former President Donald Trump.[14] By the end of February, Letlow had raised $683,000, the highest amount of money raised by any candidate in the race.[15] On March 20, Letlow received over 64% of the vote in the nonpartisan blanket primary, winning the election outright and avoiding the potential run-off.[16][17] She was sworn in on April 14, and was seated on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Agriculture Committee.[8]

Personal life

She met Luke Letlow in high school and they married in 2013.[18][9] She has two children with her late husband.[19] Letlow addressed vaccine hesitancy among Republicans and encouraged them to get the COVID-19 vaccine, invoking her husband's death from the virus.[20]

Electoral history

2021 Louisiana's 5th congressional district special election[16]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Julia Letlow 67,203 64.86
Democratic Sandra "Candy" Christophe 28,255 27.27
Republican Chad Conerly 5,497 5.31
Republican Robert Lansden 929 0.90
Republican Allen Guillory 464 0.45
Independent Jim Davis 402 0.39
Republican Sancha Smith 334 0.32
Republican M.V. "Vinny" Mendoza 236 0.23
Independent Jaycee Magnuson 131 0.13
Republican Richard H. Pannell 67 0.06
Republican Horace Melton III 62 0.06
Republican Errol Victor Sr. 36 0.03
Total votes 103,616 100.00
Republican hold


  1. ^ Letlow's husband Luke Letlow was elected to succeed retiring Representative Ralph Abraham, but died on December 29, 2020, of COVID-19, before taking office.[2] A special election was held on March 20, 2021 and was won by Letlow.[3]


  1. ^ "Terms of Service for Members of the House of Representatives in the 117th Congress" (PDF). Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  2. ^ Deslatte, Melinda (December 30, 2020). "Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dies from COVID-19". Associated Press. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  3. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (March 20, 2021). "Republican Julia Letlow wins special congressional election in Louisiana, NBC News projects". NBC News. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  4. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (March 20, 2021). "Republican Julia Letlow wins special congressional election in Louisiana, NBC News projects". NBC News. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  5. ^ Adam Levy and Ethan Cohen. "Julia Letlow makes history in Louisiana's 5th District special election while 2nd District goes to runoff". CNN. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  6. ^ Bridges, Tyler (March 15, 2021). "Julia Letlow, picking up torch from her late husband, is favored to win congressional race". The Advocate. Georges Media. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  7. ^ Barnhill, Julia Janelle (2011). Giving Meaning to Grief: the Role of Rituals and Stories in Coping with Sudden Family Loss (Ph.D. thesis). University of South Florida. OCLC 778367257.
  8. ^ a b Fram, Alan (April 14, 2021). "Louisiana congresswoman Julia Letlow takes office, replacing late husband". The Advocate. Associated Press. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Barnhill – Letlow". The News-Star. Monroe, Louisiana. March 24, 2013. p. 44. Retrieved March 21, 2021 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  10. ^ "Letlow named director of external affairs and strategic communications at ULM". The News-Star. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  11. ^ "Seven candidates in the running for ULM president". The News-Star. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  12. ^ "Luke Letlow's family talks about the congressman-elect's COVID death". The News-Star. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  13. ^ "Julia Letlow, widow of U.S. Rep-elect Luke Letlow, to run for Congress". The News-Star. December 30, 2020. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  14. ^ Axelrod, Tal (March 20, 2021). "Trump boosts Julia Letlow ahead of Louisiana special election". The Hill. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  15. ^ Pathe, Simone (March 19, 2021). "Running to replace husband who died from Covid-19, Julia Letlow hopes to bring her own experience to Congress". CNN. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  16. ^ a b "U. S. Representative – 5th Congressional District". Louisiana Secretary of State. March 20, 2021.
  17. ^ "Louisiana Primary Election Results 2021". New York Times. March 20, 2021.
  18. ^ "Family obituary for Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, who died from COVID complications". The News-Star. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  19. ^ Sentell, Will. "Luke Letlow's widow, Julia, files for his U.S. House seat after his death from coronavirus". The Advocate. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  20. ^ Main, Alison; Kelly, Caroline (March 28, 2021). "'Look at my family. Use my story': Rep.-elect Julia Letlow urges Republicans to get Covid vaccine after husband's death". CNN. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byRalph Abraham Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Louisiana's 5th congressional district2021–present Incumbent U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial) Preceded byNikema Williams United States representatives by seniority429th Succeeded byTroy Carter