|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Louisiana's 5th district
|Assumed office |
April 14, 2021
|Preceded by||Ralph Abraham[a]|
Julia Janelle Barnhill
March 16, 1981
Monroe, Louisiana, U.S.
(m. 2013; died 2020)
|Education||University of Louisiana at Monroe (BA, MA)|
University of South Florida (PhD)
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. Letlow is the first Republican woman to represent Louisiana in Congress.
Letlow was born Julia Janelle Barnhill on March 16, 1981, in Monroe, Louisiana. She graduated from Ouachita Christian High School. 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. She dedicated it to her brother, Jeremy, who died in an automobile collision.
She worked as director of education and patient safety for Tulane University School of Medicine. In 2018, she was named director of external affairs and strategic communications for the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). In 2020, she was a finalist for the presidency of ULM.
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. Julia decided to run in the special election for the vacant seat in January 2021. During her campaign, Letlow secured a number of high-profile endorsements, including one from former President Donald Trump. By the end of February, Letlow had raised $683,000, the highest amount of money raised by any candidate in the race. 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. She was sworn in on April 14, and was seated on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Agriculture Committee.
She met Luke Letlow in high school and they married in 2013. She has two children with her late husband. Letlow addressed vaccine hesitancy among Republicans and encouraged them to get the COVID-19 vaccine, invoking her husband's death from the virus.
|Democratic||Sandra "Candy" Christophe||28,255||27.27|
|Republican||M.V. "Vinny" Mendoza||236||0.23|
|Republican||Richard H. Pannell||67||0.06|
|Republican||Horace Melton III||62||0.06|
|Republican||Errol Victor Sr.||36||0.03|