Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – Senate District 21

Incumbent – D.A. “Butch” Gautreaux (D) – Term limited in 2011

District Map


Senate District 21


Voting History

2008 President
  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 34325 (63%) 32431 (63%)
Barack Obama (D) 18918 (35%) 17930 (35%)
Others 1015 (2%) 899 (2%)


2008 Senate
  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 26183 (51%) 24397 (50%)
John Kennedy (R) 24320 (47%) 23307 (47%)
Others 1181 (2%) 1113 (2%)


2010 Senate
  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 21465 (59%) 20810 (61%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 13359 (37%) 11625 (34%)
Others 1737 (5%) 1666 (5%)


2010 Lt Governor
  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 22502 (62%) 21278 (63%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 13737 (38%) 12652 (37%)


Current District

Senate District 21 is located in the southern fringes of the state and contains all of St. Mary and Assumption parishes. It also contains the southern portion of Saint Martin Parish, the northwest portion of Terrebonne Parish outside of Houma, and the western fringe of Lafourche Parish on the outskirts of Thibodaux. It contains a stable 26% African-American voter population, mostly concentrated in the sugarcane and plantation parishes of Assumption and St. Mary.

Historically, Senate District 19 was a swing district, and for Democrats, the winning formula was a strong showing in St Mary and Assumption Parishes, which cast the majority of the votes. In recent elections, the district has swung unambiguously to the right, as this area was the epicenter of the drilling moratorium. Republicans swept the area in the Congressional (and Lieutenant Governor) races held here last year.

Electorally, the district has voted for Democrats and tends to support its local legislators, although their tenures have been relatively brief. For 12 years, Morgan City Democrat Tony Guarisco represented the district until (then) Democratic businessman Mike Foster defeated him 64-36% in 1987. Foster was easily re-elected in 1991, but vacated to seat in 1995 to run for Governor – as a Republican. He was succeeded by Democratic state representative John Siracusa from Morgan City, who narrowly won the seat after spirited Republican competition. Siracusa only served one term, and was replaced by another Democratic state representative from Morgan City, “Butch” Gautreaux. Gautreaux has had little trouble getting elected or re-elected, but is term limited this year. Perhaps in anticipation of that, he ran for Lt Governor last year, but he only received 4% of the vote in a crowded primary.

Proposed District

During the past decade, the district had robust population growth, and was 11% over the population of the “ideal” senate district. Therefore, changes were made to the district that, curiously, left the demographics of the new district about the same as the existing district. Assumption Parish was removed, and some precinct swapping occurred in Lafourche Parish that resulted in a doubling of its influence in the district, going from 7% of the district voters to 14%. While these changes would seem to make the district more conservative, a 58% black (by voter registration) portion of Iberia Parish was also added to the district.

Overall, the new district has a 26% black voter registration, like the old district had. Historically, an open seat like this would have resulted in a “likely Democratic hold”, but it is worth noticing that Terrebonne/Lafourche Parishes now make up 48% of the district’s voters. While Democrats can still offer a competitive challenge, in today’s political climate, Republicans can feel confident that the demographics of this open seat (unlike the seats of other term limited Senate Democrats) are in their favor.