Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 16

Incumbent – Kay Katz (R- Term limited in 2011)


District Map

House District 16

Voting History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 13919 (73%) 5976 (36%)
Barack Obama (D) 4988 (26%) 10373 (63%)
Others 281 (1%) 146 (1%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 6505 (35%) 10530 (67%)
John Kennedy (R) 11511 (63%) 4867 (31%)
Others 322 (2%) 233 (1%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 8459 (67%) 3234 (36%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 3607 (28%) 5350 (59%)
Others 595 (5%) 507 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 8667 (69%) 3267 (36%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 3959 (31%) 5825 (64%)


Current District

Dstrict 16 starts in downtown Monroe and heads north all the way to the town of Sterlington in northern Ouachita Parish. It includes the more affluent areas of town, and is considered a Republican district. It also has a moderate 20% black voter population, which is a significant increase from 12% since the district lines were redrawn.

This district is not only consistently Republican in its voting preference, but it can be counted on to provide 65-75% support for Republican candidates, with typically higher percentages in presidential races. This steadiness also transfers over to its legislative representation: From 1976 to 1999, Democrat Jim Dimos represented the district, usually without opposition (he was Buddy Roemer’s choice for speaker of the House from 1987-1991). He retired in 1999 to become a district judge, and Republican activist Kay Katz was elected in the primary that year. She has had little issue with being re-elected, but term limits are forcing her to retire.

Proposed District

Population losses in Orleans and Jefferson Parish made redistricting more complicated in two ways: not only were there a significant number of districts that were eliminated, but with the displacement of blacks, minority districts were eliminated, which meant (according to interpretations of the Voting Rights Act) that new “majority minority” districts had to be created elsewhere in the state. Given the demographics of northeast Louisiana (as well as the fact that you had a term limited representative), that meant that a black majority district could be created in that area.

How was this done ? Even though the district was only 2% underpopulated and could have been left alone, District 16 (based in Monroe) and District 14 (anchored in Morehouse Parish) were both reconfigured. In the case of District 16, this meant that the more conservative voters west of Sterlington Road/Highway 165 (Vitter carried this area 69-26%) that represented 71% of the district were added to District 14 (Sam Little’s district). Most of the remainder of the current district, which was 35% black, was east of Sterlington Road and was kept in the district. Added to this core were 88% black precincts north of I-20 near the airport. From there, the district moved east to the Ouachita Parish line, then north towards Bastrop to take in black majority neighborhoods there. For this portion of the district, territory was taken from the rural districts of Sam Little (District 14) and “Bubba” Chaney (District 19).

Overall, you have a district that is now 60% black by voter registration. The portion in Ouachita Parish is 59% black and represents 59% of the voters. The remaining 41% is in Morehouse Parish and is 61% black. Though this could be thought of as reducing Republican representation in that part of the state, you also had two districts represented by Republicans (Sam Little and “Bubba” Chaney) that had 32% black voter populations. At that level of minority influence, either or both districts could have been recaptured by Democrats. With the conversion of this district to a black majority district, Rep. Little now has a safe seat, and Rep. Chaney’s seat was made safer.

Now that you have a district that is pretty much assured to be a Democratic seat (GOP performance in recent elections is a consistent 1/3 of the vote), the question now is whether the victor will come from Monroe or Bastrop.