Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 61

Incumbent – Michael Jackson (D – Term Limited in 2011)

District Map

House District 61

Voting History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 2613 (14%) 2945 (16%)
Barack Obama (D) 16174 (85%) 15099 (83%)
Others 185 (1%) 174 (1%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 16110 (87%) 15154 (85%)
John Kennedy (R) 2122 (11%) 2359 (13%)
Others 271 (1%) 262 (1%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 1618 (16%) 1804 (18%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 8031 (78%) 7796 (77%)
Others 619 (6%) 591 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 2317 (23%) 2504 (25%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 7945 (77%) 7682 (75%)

Current District

House District 61 is located in inner-city Baton Rouge and was designed to be a black majority district when it was created in 1983. It includes most of the old blue collar neighborhoods north of Choctaw between Airline and Plank. From there, it stretches south to include the Eden Park area and apartment complexes around the former Bon Marche Mall. It also includes at its southern boundaries some garden district-ish white neighborhoods along Government and Claycut.

The district has a solid 75% African-American majority, up from 69% when the district lines were drawn. Most of that change is attributable to demographic changes in the old working class white neighborhoods north of Choctaw. And most of the remaining white voters still live in “garden district” neighborhoods that cast about a quarter of the district’s vote.

Politically, the district is solidly Democratic, due both to its black majority and the liberal tendencies in the “garden district” neighborhoods south of Florida Boulevard – these nearly all white precincts only gave David Vitter a 47-46% plurality in his 20 point victory over Charlie Melancon last year. Overall, Democrats can count on at least 3 to 1 support in contested elections.

(UPDATED 7/2/2011)

The district has had steady representation since its creation in 1983. African-American Democrat Louis Jetson was first elected to the seat that year, but died during the 1984 session. His brother Raymond Jetson was elected in 1984, and served with little opposition until 1999, when he resigned to take a state job. He was succeeded by another black Democrat, Michael Jackson, who has had little trouble being re-elected to his seat. Even when he switched parties to run for Congress against Don Cazayoux in 2008 as an Independent, he received 26% of the vote from the precincts in his district, despite getting 12% district wide. Rep. Jackson is term limited this year, and cannot run for re-election. In his final months in the House, he switched his party registration back to Democrat.

Proposed District

Redistricting in this part of the state was a simple process; District 61 was almost exactly the population needed for an “ideal” district. All in all, six precincts were traded between the district and adjacent districts to the north, east, and south. These changes have slightly diluted the black voting influence from 75 to 73%, as precincts near Redemptorist were removed, and the district was pushed east towards Villa Del Rey. It is almost certain that a black Democrat will be elected in this district this fall.