Sam Hanna Jr.

The special election to fill the void created by the tragic death of 5th District Congressman-elect Luke Letlow will generate headlines but it won’t be because the race will be hotly contested.

The election will evolve into a ho-hum affair once Letlow’s widow, Julia, officially declares her candidacy to succeed her late husband, which was unofficially announced several days after Luke Letlow died when Gannett — relying on anonymous sources — reported Julia Letlow was inundated with calls to become a candidate. Qualifying for the March 20 special election begins Jan. 20 and wraps up Jan. 22. So, the time is nye for Letlow to make her intentions official. That’s the least she could do so anyone considering entering the race can make their decision and get on with life, as a candidate or not.

Though a host of potential candidates for the 5th District special election have been discussed privately and publicly for going on two weeks now, the race — if you want to call it that — has been put on hold awaiting word from Letlow. No potential candidate from northeastern Louisiana could make a move as long Letlow could become a candidate and as long as former Congressman Ralph Abraham was poised to step away from his retirement from politics and run for his old seat again. Make no mistake, any decision Letlow made was in consultation with Abraham since Luke Letlow was Abraham’s protegé.

Letlow getting into politics in her own capacity probably surprises many. She has two very young children to raise including an infant, and she has a promising career ahead of her in higher education. Just last year, she was a finalist for the president’s job at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

Obviously, Letlow feels compelled to finish the job her late husband started and considering how popular Luke Letlow was among people from all walks of life, her candidacy makes perfect sense. Why? Because it’s highly likely Luke Letlow’s voters will become Julia Letlow’s voters, and any criticism directed at Julia Letlow will be deemed insensitive and out of line.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world for a man to run against a woman for public office. There’s a level decorum that’s expected from a man who’s running against a woman that otherwise would not be an issue if his opponent was another male. That’s especially true if the female candidate is a mother and a widow. Let that serve as free advice for any male who enters the 5th District race. Choose your words wisely. Otherwise, be prepared to be called a bully and a host of other names that aren’t fit for print.

It would be foolhardy to believe no one could run a successful campaign against Letlow. For example, a candidate — woman or man — could argue his or her election wouldn’t create any undo burdens for their kids. More importantly, a true conservative could clearly communicate with the voting public that he or she was running for Congress to fight the socialist Democrats who have a trifecta of control of the House of Representatives, Senate and the presidency.

While Letlow most likely will get a pass from being opposed by a local office holder, she won’t be elected by fiat. Sandra “Candy” Christophe, a Democrat from Alexandria who finished third in the 5th District primary last fall, has already announced her intentions to run. Others will run, too, though no one of any household name recognition has emerged.

Either way, the voters deserve to have a choice.

Sam Hanna Jr. can be reached by phone at 318-805-8158 or e-mail at samhannajr@samhannajr.com.

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