INCUMBENT: Jack Donahue (Republican)
DESCRIPTION: Senate District 11 is located in the Florida Parishes along I-12, and in Tangipahoa Parish includes the fast growing areas to the east of Hammond, while in Saint Tammany, it includes the suburbs of Madisonville, Mandeville, Covington, Abita Springs, and Lacombe. This is an area that has seen rapid growth in recent years, as parts of Saint Tammany near Slidell (which are in an adjacent district) are starting to run out of developable land. The overall tone of this district is suburban, with both upper middle income and affluent enclaves.
RED/BLUE RATING (using 2008, 2012, and 2014 elections): 75% Republican
JMCEL’s SUMMARY: As New Orleans’ first ring of suburbs in Jefferson and Saint Bernard Parishes began to fill up, the “next frontier” for suburban development became Saint Tammany Parish, and this was recognized politically when after the 1981 reapportionment, a brand new Senate district was created in Saint Tammany and Tangipahoa Parishes along I-12. This basic configuration, despite substantial growth, has remained through successive redistrictings, although the size of the district has continually been pared back each time the lines were redrawn.
Politically, this is one of the most heavily Republican districts in the state, with a low 7% black voter registration, and the upper middle to affluent suburbs here set the political tone, with 3:1 margins for Republican statewide candidates’ being the typical partisan performance. Even with a strong vote throughout metropolitan New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, former Senator Mary Landrieu could only get 33% of the district vote (in 2015, that percentage slipped to 25%).
Curiously, the district did not elect a Republican senator when it was created in 1981, and is another example of why Democrats were historically dominant in legislative elections, even though this has always been a heavily Republican district. However, the Democrat elected here in 1983 when the district was first created (Gerry Hinton) did switch parties in the mid 1980s. He declined to seek re-election in 1995, and Republican Tom Schedler was elected in the open seat race. He was easily re-elected until term limits ended his legislative tenure in 2008 (he is currently Louisiana’s Secretary of State).
In the open seat race to replace Senator Scheduler in 2007, engineer/CEO Jack Donahue easily defeated a term limited Republican legislator in the primary, and was unopposed in 2011. He should have no re-election troubles in this district, and is allowed to serve one more term.