Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 85

Open Seat – (The incumbent is Ricky Templet (R))

District Map

House District 85

Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 8446 (50%) 8873 (54%)
Barack Obama (D) 8266 (49%) 7184 (44%)
Others 237 (1%) 238 (1%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 9870 (61%) 9101 (59%)
John Kennedy (R) 5902 (37%) 6113 (39%)
Others 311 (2%) 311 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 5387 (47%) 5549 (53%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 5485 (48%) 4301 (41%)
Others 666 (6%) 662 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 5339 (46%) 5472 (52%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 6142 (54%) 4971 (48%)

 Current District

While the advent of term limits in 2007 created multiple pickup opportunities for Republicans, there were also several Republican-held state house seats in metro New Orleans that could have presented opportunities for Democratic pickups, although that turned out not to be the case in 2007.

District 85 is one of those districts. It is a mixture of two distinct areas of the Westbank. Most of the district is in Gretna, with the remainder living in the Timberlane area south of LaPalco Boulevard near the Plaquemines Parish line. This is a district which historically has voted Republican, but is now a marginal district, thanks to demographic changes: the black voter registration in the district has increased from 30% (when the lines were last drawn) to 38%. John McCain only eked out a 50-49% win here, and the district voted Democratic in both “top of the ballot” races in 2010.

However, the Democratic trend has not yet registered in the district’s House representation, which, in fact, has been pretty stable. Joe Tommy served as its representative from 1983 to 2007, and was only closely pressed for re-election once – in 1987. He was originally elected as a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party in 1990. Term limits forced him to retire in 2007. Even though the demographics of the district suggested a competitive race, only two Republicans qualified, and one of the candidates (Ricky Templet) had a long list of endorsements, including the late sheriff Harry Lee and Rep. Toomy, and was elected with 74% of the vote. (UPDATE 7/23) Though he could have served for two more terms, he chose not to seek re-election so he could run for the Jefferson Parish Council.

Proposed District

Population losses in Orleans and Jefferson Parish made redistricting a tricky proposition for the area. Though the district had 2% more population than necessary for the ideal district, you had other districts in the Westbank that were under populated, and there was pressure to create new minority districts to replace those that were eliminated in New Orleans. Considering all this, the district was kept largely intact. Nearly all of the territory south of Lapalco Boulevard was moved to adjacent districts, and the relocation of Speaker Jim Tucker’s district from the Westbank/Algiers to Tangipahoa Parish means that Terrytown was added to the district. These changes reduced the black voter registration from 38 to 33% and transformed a marginal district to one with a slight Republican lean.

(UPDATED 7/23) The fact that this is an open seat this year will make for an interesting race – Republicans are favored to win, but the large black voter base could create the opportunity for a Democratic challenge.