- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2020

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana governor last year, said Wednesday that he won’t seek another term in Congress.

He said he’s sticking to a campaign pledge to serve only three terms in the U.S. House.

Abraham, a doctor and farmer from rural Richland Parish, announced his decision about the Nov. 3 election in a statement to his constituents that touted President Donald Trump’s tenure in office. He said he feels the nation is on the right track and didn’t mention his failed bid to become governor.

He said Trump asked him to run for another term in the northeast Louisiana-based 5th District during a January flight from Washington to the college football national championship game in New Orleans. But he said he declined.

“The decision to serve only three terms as a member of the House is one that I made six years ago, but I very much look forward to supporting the President’s agenda for the remainder of my tenure in Congress and in other capacities moving forward,” Abraham said.

“I have sought to serve you honorably in Congress, as your ‘citizen congressman,’ and the commitment I made as a candidate in 2014 will be kept,” he added.

Abraham’s chief of staff, Republican Luke Letlow, is expected to run for the seat. Abraham told The News-Star newspaper that he’ll support Letlow. At least two other contenders - Ouachita Parish Police Juror Scotty Robinson, a Republican from West Monroe, and Sandra “Candy” Shoemaker-Christophe, an Alexandria Democrat - have announced campaigns. The candidate signup period for the race is in mid-July.

Abraham had never held public office when he ran for Congress six years ago to represent the largely rural district that contains all or part of 24 parishes across northeast and central Louisiana, including the cities of Monroe and Alexandria.

He ousted Republican then-incumbent Vance McAllister, who couldn’t survive a cheating scandal. Abraham was one of nine candidates in the race and reached the win in a bit of a surprise, surpassing other Republicans expected to outperform him.

He cruised to a re-election victory in November 2018, easily defeating three opponents without needing a runoff. He then quickly announced his campaign to become governor.

But in that 2019 governor’s race, Abraham lagged in fundraising and couldn’t match the advertising and spending pace of Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards and millionaire GOP businessman Eddie Rispone, who self-financed much of his campaign. Abraham finished third in the primary behind both men, and Edwards defeated Rispone in November.

In Congress, Abraham has been a reliable Republican vote, an ally for Trump and an outspoken voice for farmers from his position on the Agriculture Committee. He’s also a pilot, a former member of the Army National Guard who still flies for the Coast Guard Auxiliary and for the Civil Air Patrol.


Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

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