U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham’s announcement last week that he is retiring immediately opened speculation about who might replace him.
Abraham, 5th District Congressman since January 2015, said when he first ran for Congress that he would serve no more than three terms.
His third term ends in January, and he will be replaced by a new Congressman at that time.
Abraham lost a bid to become Louisiana’s governor last fall, but he said that did not factor into his decision to retire from Congress. His pledge to serve only three terms was sincere from the beginning, he said.
With the departure of Abraham, Washington Parish’s revolving door in Congress continues.
Former 1st District Congressman Bob Livingston represented the parish in the 1990’s. He left Congress and was replaced by David Vitter. Vitter ran for the Senate and was replaced in Congress by Bobby Jindal. Jindal ran for Governor and was replaced in Congress by Steve Scalise.
Washington Parish was moved into the 5th District due to redistricting and Congressman Rodney Alexander became our new federal representative. Alexander retired, and was replaced by Congressman Vance McAlister, who served only one term due to a scandal. (The married Congressman was caught on video kissing his office assistant.) Abraham then was elected to the seat.
When the new Congressman takes over in January 2021, he or she will be Washington Parish’s 8th Congressman in the past 25 years. That’s got to be some sort of record.
Some Washington Parish elected officials have complained in the past not only about the revolving door of U.S. Representatives, but also that the parish is in the 5th District. Washington Parish is the eastern-most parish in the far flung district, which runs from the Pearl River on the east to the Red River on the west, and from Interstate 10 on the south to Arkansas on the north. It is the largest Congressional district in Louisiana in terms of geography.
In the past, before redistricting, Washington Parish and St. Tammany Parish, close neighbors, were both in the 1st Congressional District.
In terms of a replacement for Abraham, several candidates are looking at the race. Perhaps the best known to Washington Parish is Luke Letlow, Alexander’s Chief of Staff. Letlow has worked with various elected officials and constituents in Washington Parish since 2015 for Abraham, and before that for Bobby Jindal when Jindal was in Congress.
In addition to Letlow, others are also looking at the race, and it is expected to be a crowded field faced by the voters when the primary occurs on November 3. Congressional seats don’t come open very often in Louisiana, so look for plenty of candidates to be on the ballot.