Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – Senate District 8

Incumbent – John Alario (R – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

Senate District 8

Senate District 8 Westbank


Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 25883 (56%) 28067 (57%)
Barack Obama (D) 19240 (42%) 20188 (41%)
Others 793 (2%) 872 (2%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 26169 (59%) 27974 (59%)
John Kennedy (R) 16945 (38%) 18266 (39%)
Others 991 (2%) 1051 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 15064 (51%) 15992 (51%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 12809 (43%) 13279 (42%)
Others 1682 (6%) 2010 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 14700 (50%) 15720 (51%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 14667 (50%) 15358 (49%)

 Current District

In Metro Orleans, parish boundaries are technicalities, as Orleans and Jefferson Parishes both straddle the Mississippi River. The real “boundaries” are between the “Eastbank” and the “Westbank” (affectionately titled “the best bank” by locals). The West Bank has historically contained proportionately more of the black and blue collar suburbs in Jefferson Parish, although Republicans are competitive here – they currently hold three house seats in the area. Senate District 8, for all practical purposes, is the “Westbank District” of Jefferson Parish. It stretches from the levees of the Mississippi River to Grand Isle in the south, and includes most of the Westbank, except for black majority sections of Gretna, Harvey, and Marrero. The district itself has a 31% black voter population (up from 24% of the voter population in 2003), and while it leans Republican, there is an unmistakable Democratic trend in the district – in recent elections, the Republican performance of the district has been less than the statewide average.

The Senate district has had steady representation over the years: after former state representative J. Chris Ullo upset a longtime Senate incumbent in 1987, he was usually re-elected pretty easily, although Republican Robert Evans held him to 56% of the vote in 2003. Senator Ullo was term limited, and was succeeded by longtime Democratic state representative (and two term speaker) John Alario, received 63% of the vote against a Republican in a hard fought race. This was an across the board victory, as he received 76% of the vote from his old House district and 55% of the vote in Republican Tarrytown. Even though the district demographics and Alario’s local popularity would likely have enabled him to be easily re-elected as a Democrat, he switched to the Republican Party after the 2010 elections. (UPDATED 9/9/2011) He is allowed to seek two more terms, and was re-elected without opposition in 2011.

Proposed District

Though redistricting in the New Orleans metropolitan area was an unpleasant task due to heavy population losses from Katrina, District 8 was relatively untouched, as it was only 3% below the population of an “ideal” district. The west bank of Plaquemines Parish below Belle Chasse was added from District 1 (represented by Republican A.G. Crowe), and a black precinct in Harvey was moved to Senate District 3 (represented by black Democrat J.P. Morrell). These changes had a minimal political impact on the district; the black voter registration decreased slightly from 31 to 30%. (UPDATED 9/9/2011) Senator Alario should not have trouble with re-election in the future, but it’s worth asking whether (1) the Democratic voting base in the district creates the climate for a Democratic challenger to emerge; and (2) given the demographic trends in the district, whether another Republican can be elected from this district in 2019 when Senator Alario is term limited.