Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – Senate District 2

Incumbent – Cynthia Willard-Lewis (D – Term limited in 2023)

District Map



Senate District 2


Voting History


2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 24169 (7%) 33136 (36%)
Barack Obama (D) 1933 (92%) 19327 (62%)
Others 142 (1%) 670 (1%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 23754 (94%) 35921 (72%)
John Kennedy (R) 1307 (5%) 13516 (27%)
Others 236 (1%) 776 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 1127 (7%) 11047 (33%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 14908 (89%) 20804 (62%)
Others 728 (4%) 1495 (4%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 15439 (8%) 12371 (37%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 1270 (92%) 20702 (63%)

Current District

New Orleans East is a section of New Orleans east of the Industrial Canal that is a mixture of middle class subdivisions, industry, and miles of swampland. Senate District 2 included most of this area, as well as an area near the junction of the Industrial Canal and the Mississippi River known as the “Lower 9th Ward.”

Demographically, the district had a solid (87%) African-American majority, up from 84% of the vote a few years ago. In fact, this state Senate district was one of the few parts of New Orleans to have had a steadily increasing black voting population. It would be a mistake, however, to consider this as an inner-city district, because the district was made up both of lower-income neighborhoods in the Lower 9th Ward and middle to upper middle income neighborhoods along I-10 going out towards Slidell. And in a few scattered New Orleans East precincts (particularly east of Paris Road/I-510), there were still a significant number of white (and lately Vietnamese) voters.

Despite the variety in income levels in the district, the district had a near unanimous preference for Democrats, although it’s worth noting that in the 2003 Governor’s race, Bobby Jindal received an endorsement from former mayor Ray Nagin – an endorsement that got him 21% of the vote in the district. Without Nagin’s support in his 2007 race, Bobby’s district support receded somewhat to 18%.

Senate District 2 elected its first black senator, Jon Johnson, in a 1985 special election. He was re-elected without opposition in 1987 and 1991. In his 1995 and 1999 races, he had strong competition and was held to 54% of the vote each time. He was defeated by Ann Duplessis in the 2003 runoff 53-47%. Johnson sought a rematch in 2007, and held former senator Duplessis to 52%. While Duplessis lost ground in the lower 9th Ward compared to 2003, she clinched her re-election by improving on her 2003 performance in precincts east of Paris Road. She resigned last year to take a “deputy mayor” position with Mitch Landrieu, who was elected Mayor of New Orleans last February. In a special election held last October to fill the vacated seat, Cynthia Willard Lewis clinched victory in the primary with an impressive 63% of the vote.

Proposed District

One of the epicenters of the destruction Hurricane Katrina (and, to a lesser extent, Rita) unleashed on New Orleans was in the precincts of District 2. Accordingly, there were huge population losses in the district, which was 43% under populated relative to the population of an “ideal” Senate district. This was the one Senate district which was eliminated in redistricting, with portions of the district’s being absorbed by the districts of J.P Morrell and Ed Murray. Senator Willard-Lewis’ residence was placed in the district of J.P. Morrell.

The recreated district has been relocated to the River Parishes and includes parts of 8 parishes. With a 56% black voter registration, the district was designed to elect a black senator and was created from portions of four existing senate districts. The new district starts in the black neighborhoods of Port Allen and travels down the Mississippi River to include portions of Iberville Parish between LA 1 and Saint Gabriel. This portion was taken from the district of Rob Marionneaux/Senate District 17. District 18 (held by Jody Amedee) lost many of its Democratic precincts in Ascension (Donaldsonville and parts of Gonzales west of LA 44), St James and St John. Senate District 19 (held by Joel Chaisson) lost some of its precincts in St John, St Charles, and Thibodaux in Lafourche Parish. Finally, black precincts in Thibodaux and Assumption Parish were removed from the district of “Butch” Gautreaux.

Overall, it is almost guaranteed that a Democrat will be elected in this new district, since Jay Dardenne’s 37% of the vote in the 2010 Lieutenant Governor’s race was on the high end for a Republican candidate. The real question with this district is the patterns of support, since both the overall and black populations are dispersed across multiple parishes.