FIGHT FOR THE FIFTH: Runoff for Louisiana congressional seat intensifies

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The race to succeed an outgoing north Louisiana congressman is entering its final weeks, with two competitors alike on policy matters — but split on tone.

Republicans Luke Letlow and Lance Harris are preparing for a Dec. 5 runoff after the two topped a field of nine candidates in a Nov. 3 open primary.

Letlow and Harris both remain in good standing with anti-abortion and gun rights groups. Both have prioritized job growth and vocational opportunities, if elected to replace U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham — an Alto Republican who has represented the state’s Fifth Congressional District since 2015.

“Not everyone is going to go to college, so we’ve got to take graduates out of high school,” said Letlow, who has worked as Abraham’s chief of staff. “We’ll make sure they have good training, whether it’s in welding or other skills.”

“We’ve got to take graduates out of high school and make sure they have good training,” said Harris, who owns a chain of convenience stores and represents the Alexandria region in the state House. “Our workers will be ready to take over the challenge.”

But both stand eager to differentiate themselves from the other.

“My opponent, all he’s ever been is a government employee, political employee or a lobbyist,” Harris said of Letlow in a recent interview.

“My opponent’s been elected to political office three times,” Letlow said. “I was fortunate to be able to work in Congress and learn from the very best.”

The emerging rivals tout age as their greatest asset, though in different ways.

“We’re looking forward, not looking backward,” the 40-year-old Letlow said. “We’re trying to build plans for the future, so I think my age is absolutely an advantage.”

“I have those life experiences that are important to this district and the people I’m going to represent,” Harris, 59, said.

Early voting for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District race runs from Nov. 20 to Nov. 28; that excludes Sunday, Nov. 22; Thursday, Nov. 26 (Thanksgiving); and Friday, Nov. 27 (Acadian Day).

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