Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – Senate District 26

Incumbent – Jonathan Perry (R – Term Limited in 2023)

District Map

Senate District 26


Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 38493 (71%) 36569 (71%)
Barack Obama (D) 15085 (28%) 14231 (27%)
Others 984 (2%) 961 (2%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 24077 (45%) 22869 (45%)
John Kennedy (R) 27797 (52%) 26332 (52%)
Others 1278 (2%) 1218 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 23065 (67%) 21867 (67%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 9222 (27%) 8647 (27%)
Others 2129 (6%) 2105 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 21271 (62%) 20186 (62%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 12799 (38%) 12125 (38%)

Current District

Senate District 26 is located in the heart of Acadiana and contains Vermillion Parish, the western fringe of Lafayette Parish, eastern portions of Acadia Parish, and the southwestern portion of St. Landry Parish. The district also has a 17% black voter population – a slight uptick from 16% when the lines were last drawn, and is due to demographic changes around Carencro.

Politically, the district votes Republican at the top of the ballot, unless an Acadiana-based Democrat is running. In recent years, the district has moved further to the right, with Republican candidates receiving over 60% of the vote in both contested races in 2010. Curiously, the patterns of support are similar in each of the four parishes.

Until this year, however, Democrats were securely in control of legislative races here. Democrat Cecil Picard represented the district from 1979 to 1996, and rarely faced much competition. He resigned in 1996 to become Secretary of Education under the first Foster administration. He was replaced by former state Representative Gerald Theunissen (then a Democrat), who defeated former Republican Party chairman Mike Francis 56-44%. Theunissen was placed in a different district after the 1997 reapportionment, and the district elected Democrat Fred Hoyt in 1999. Hoyt only served one term, as he was defeated by Democrat Nick Gautreaux in 2003. Senator Gautreaux was easily re-elected in 2007, and recently resigned to accept a position with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Gautreaux resignation (coupled with a similar resignation in another Acadiana based Senate district) were one of a series of events in the aftermath of the 2010 elections that enabled Republicans to attain a numerical majority in the state senate. Two candidates contested the race: Republican state representative Jonathan Perry and Democratic businessman/police juror Nathan Granger. While Granger was well funded, he suffered from discontent voters had with Democrats over the drilling moratorium, which had an economic impact here. He also was hurt with the last minute revelation that he had a campaign staffer on his payroll who had worked for the Obama campaign. In a district that gave Democrats Charlie Melancon and Barack Obama the same 27% of the vote in two different election years, these charges surely had an impact. Perry was elected with 52% of the vote. He clearly benefitted from favorable turnout in Vermilion Parish. While Vermilion was the only parish he carried, he came very close in the other three parishes. (UPDATED 9/9/2011) Senator Perry was unopposed for re-election in 2011, and can serve three more terms.

Proposed District

In this part of the state, the challenge presented by redistricting was the fact that many of the adjacent districts were overpopulated. District 26 was itself 10% over the population of an “ideal” senate district, and had to shed some territory. All in all, 16 precincts were traded (11 precincts were lost, and 5 precincts were added), which in the end had negligible political effect, although the black voter registration did slightly drop from 17 to 16%.

Did reapportionment help or hurt Senator Perry ? Overall, we believe he will receive a slight benefit. Even though he lost conservative precincts in Acadia Parish that voted over 2 to 1 for him, he also “traded up” in Lafayette Parish, losing precincts near Carencro and gaining precincts near Ambassador Caffery that voted 69-24% for David Vitter. Furthermore, if we were to look at the precincts which remained in the district, Senator Perry received the same 52% of the vote that he received on Election Night. The precincts added voted 69-23% for Vitter, which is better than the 67-27% Vitter received in the district as whole.