Ralph Abraham

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Ralph Lee Abraham, Jr.


U.S. Representative for Louisiana's
5th congressional district
Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 3, 2015
Preceded by Vance Michael McAllister, Sr.

Born September 16, 1954
Alto, Richland Parish, Louisiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dianne Abraham
Children KiAnne, Lee, and Ashley

Parents:
Marlene Posey and Ralph Abraham, Sr.

Residence Mangham, Richland Parish
Alma mater Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Louisiana State University School of Medicine

Occupation Physician

former veterinarian

Religion Southern Baptist

Ralph Lee Abraham, Jr. (born September 16, 1954), is an American physician and former veterinarian from Mangham in Richland Parish in northeastern Louisiana, who was elected in 2014 to the United States House of Representatives for his state's 5th congressional district, which encompasses a large swath of territory between Monroe and Baton Rouge. He was a Republican candidate for governor in the 2019 nonpartisan blanket primary. He finished third with 317,115 votes (24 percent). The primary placed a second Republican, Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman who largely self-financed his campaign, into the November 16 runoff election against the incumbent Democrat, John Bel Edwards, who led the primary with exactly 626,000 votes (46.6 percent).[1][2]

Background

Of Arab descent, Abraham is the son of the former Marlene Posey (1932–2015), a retired educator, and Ralph Abraham, Sr. (1933–1980).[3] He is a graduate of Louisiana State University and its schools of both medicine and veterinary medicine, both in Baton Rouge. Abraham served in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Mississippi National Guard. He and his wife, Dianne, have three children.

Congressional tenure

When Abraham announced his congressional candidacy in 2014, he declared that he would adhere to self-imposed term limits of six years. Sam Hanna, Jr., a Monroe-based journalist, said that the House leadership, "for all practical purposes, had no reason to help him advance in a world where seniority means everything. Yet, Abraham could turn the tables and announce in the very near future that he’d given some thought to all of that yak about term limits and simply declare his intention to remain in the House ..."[4] To win his U.S. House seat, Abraham first dispatched the scandal-plagued Republican incumbent Vance Michael McAllister, Sr., and Republican Zach Dasher, a member of the Duck Dynasty family of West Monroe who finished third in the primary. Then in the general election, Abraham easily defeated the African-American Democrat Jamie Mayo, the mayor of Monroe, 134,612 votes (64.2 percent) to 75,004 (35.8 percent).[5] He handily defeated fellow Republican Billy Burkette in 2016 to secure his second term as representative.

Though considered a conservative on most political issues, including abortion, Abraham opposed the continued use of the Electoral College and said in a radio interview that he supports a direct popular vote for president and vice-president, which in 2016 would have meant victory for Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.

In his bid for a third term in the House, Abraham defeated three challengers in the primary election held on November 6, 2018. Billy Burkette of Pride in East Baton Rouge Parish ran in 2018 as an Independent. Jessee Carlton Fleenor (born September 23, 1984), a female Democrat from Loranger in Tangipahoa Parish who carried the official endorsement of the Louisiana Democratic Executive Committee.[6] Kyle Randol, a Libertarian of Monroe also sought the congressional seat.[7]

In September 2018, Abraham urged colleagues on the Farm Bill House-Senate Conference Committee to include work requirements for food stamp recipients: "We're simply asking these adults to meet the taxpayer halfway." The farm bill sets agriculture policy for five years though the United States Constitution says that a current Congress cannot commit spending to a future Congress. The Senate is resisting the work requirements related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Abraham said that the committee "is very close on every issue except SNAP reforms."[8]

In February 2020, Abraham confirmed that he will honor his three-term pledge and not run again for the U.S. House. Already in the race for the open seat is Scotty Robinson (born c. 1985), a Republican from West Monroe who has since 2012 held the District A seat on the Ouachita Parish Police Jury. Luke Letlow, Abraham's chief of staff, is considering running for the seat, and if he does he will have Abraham's support. State Representatives Jack McFarland of Winnfield and Michael T. Johnson of Pineville (no relation to Mike Johnson, the 4th district representative since 2017) are other Republicans who could enter the race. Democrat "Candy" Christophe of Alexandria is also in the running.[9]

Gubernatorial race

In April 2019, Abraham released as his key supporters for governor the names of more than one hundred Louisiana officials, most of whom hold minor positions. Two state representatives endorsed Abraham, including Jay Morris of Monroe and Paul Hollis, Jr., of Covington. Several district attorneys are Abraham supporters as is the sheriff of Richland Parish, Gary Gilley.[10]

The Louisiana Republican State Executive Committee had been expected to recommend only one candidate to challenge Edwards and to urge that the unendorsed candidate(s) withdraw from the race. Instead the party supported both Abraham and Rispone. Polls consistently showed the Democrat Edwards leading Rispone and Abraham in his bid for a second term as governor. Edwards ultimately won reelection, 51-49 percent, over Rispone.

On June 27, 2019, Abraham received the support of Republican Craig Greene, a fellow physician from Baton Rouge who in the 2015 general election had crossed party lines to support John Bel Edwards for governor.[11]

U.S. President Donald Trump endorsed Rispone in the general election with Edwards after Abraham had been eliminated from the competition. In a pre-primary rally in Lake Charles, Trump urged Louisiana's Republican voters to come to the polls on October 12 and vote for either Abraham or Rispone. Abraham right after the results were released pledged his support to Rispone as well. However, two days before the Edwards-Rispone contest, one of Abraham's sons-in-law donated $5,000 to the Edwards campaign.[12]

After his gubernatorial defeat, Abraham said that he would honor his three-term pledge and not run again for Louisiana's 5th congressional district seat. Lance Harris, a conservative leader in the state House of Representatives, announced that he would run to succeed Abraham. Luke Letlow, like Abraham a native of Richland Parish and Abraham's since resigned chief of staff, is also running for the seat and with Abraham's support.[13]

References

  1. Erin McCarty. Congressman Ralph Abraham is running for governor. Retrieved on December 6, 2018.
  2. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 12, 2019.
  3. Greg Hilburn (July 29, 2015). Congressman Abraham's mother, 83, dies. The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved on July 30, 2015.
  4. Sam Hanna, Jr. (July 17, 2018). Big decision for Abraham. Hannapub.com. Retrieved on July 18, 2018.
  5. Runoff election returns. Louisiana Secretary of State (December 6, 2014). Retrieved on April 10, 2018.
  6. Greg Hilburn (August 20, 2018). See who Louisiana Democrats pinned their hopes on. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on August 21, 2018.
  7. Greg Hilburn (July 20, 2018). Johnson, Abraham draw opposition; one challenger arrested. The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved on July 23, 2018.
  8. Greg Hilburn (September 6, 2018). Abraham pushes food stamp work requirements in Farm Bill. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on September 9, 2018.
  9. Greg Hilburn (February 28, 2020). Who's running for Louisiana Congressman Ralph Abraham's seat?. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on March 2, 2020.
  10. Abraham rolls out over 100 endorsements from elected officials. Abrahamforgovernor.com. Retrieved on April 12, 2019.
  11. Greg Hilburn (June 27, 2019). PSC's Craig Greene endorses Abraham after backing Edwards in 2015. Monroe News-Star.
  12. Ken Webster, Jr. (November 14, 2019). Louisiana: Rep. Ralph Abraham's Family Just Donated to John Bel's Campaign. wrno.iheart.com. Retrieved on November 19, 2019.
  13. Luke Letlow joins congressional race with Ralph Abraham's backing. The Monroe News-Star (March 9, 2020). Retrieved on March 10, 2020.