Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – Senate District 28

Incumbent – Eric Lafleur (D – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

Senate District 28

Vote  History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 32370 (64%) 32543 (64%)
Barack Obama (D) 17291 (34%) 17554 (34%)
Others 1089 (2%) 1045 (2%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 25221 (52%) 24980 (51%)
John Kennedy (R) 22377 (46%) 22977 (47%)
Others 1317 (3%) 1318 (3%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 16988 (59%) 17663 (59%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 9601 (33%) 9816 (33%)
Others 2337 (8%) 2356 (8%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 16492 (57%) 17095 (57%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 12462 (43%) 12733  (43%)

Current District

In general, the “line of demarcation” between North and South Louisiana has been described by John Maginnis as “anything beyond a 30 minute drive above U.S. 190.” Senate District 28 is one district that straddles that line. While it includes the “Cajun” portion of Avoyelles Parish south of the Red River and the eastern portion (as well as most of Eunice) of predominately Cajun Saint Landry Parish, it also includes all of Allen and Evangeline Parishes. Allen Parish is closest in mindset to Central/North Louisiana, while Evangeline can be considered a Cajun parish if you’re talking about the area around Ville Platte and Mamou. The district has a modest 24% black voter registration, which has not changed much throughout the decade.

For years, this was a populist Democratic stronghold, and in fact, used to vote Democratic in most statewide elections, while in Presidential elections, the area tended to vote with the statewide winner. In recent statewide elections, though, Republicans have gained traction here, and the district, like many others in rural Louisiana, voted Republican in the 2010 elections by a solid margin, giving David Vitter 59% and Jay Dardenne 57% of the vote.

This movement towards the Republicans has not yet happened in legislative elections, and thus far, Republicans have not even attempted to compete here. From 1976 to 1992, Democrat John Saunders of Evangeline Parish represented the area, and was routinely re-elected with huge margins. He resigned in 1992 to take a seat on the state appeals court. Succeeding him was Democrat Don “Doc” Hines of Bunkie (a town in Avoyelles Parish),who similarly had little trouble keeping his seat. Though he was term limited in 2007, he was chosen by former Governor Kathleen Blanco to be the Senate President in his last term.

The race to succeed Senator Hines was notable in that the Republicans didn’t even field a candidate. It probably doesn’t help that only 17% of voters are registered Republicans – the lowest percentage in the entire state for a white majority Senate district. “Doc” attempted to keep the seat in the family with the candidacy of his 23 year old grandson, but state Representative Eric Lafleur defeated him in the runoff with 56% of the vote after nearly receiving 50% of the vote in the primary. He is allowed to serve two more terms in the Senate.

Proposed District

Redistricting in this part of the state was simple, since there were no obvious places to draw new black majority districts, and because the district itself had 2% more people than the “ideal” district. However, there were some changes made, particularly in St Landry Parish, as the eastern portion of the parish was sheared off, while precincts along the Evangeline Parish line near Washington were added. Similarly, the heavily Republican (David Vitter won this area 81-14%) northern tier of precincts in Acadia Parish just south of Eunice were added. Finally, several Republican heavy precincts in Avoyelles Parish were sheared off. These changes in the aggregate had almost no political impact, although the black voter registration increased slightly to 25%. Though Senator Lafleur shouldn’t have any re-election troubles, the recent movement towards the Republicans (even with high Democratic turnout, Senator Mary Landrieu only carried this district 51-47% in 2008) would seem to give Republicans sufficient confidence to field a candidate in a future election.