Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – Senate District 13

Incumbent – Dale Erdey (R – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

Senate District 13

Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 53027 (82%) 42316 (87%)
Barack Obama (D) 10954 (17%) 5707 (12%)
Others 1082 (2%) 872 (2%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 20036 (31%) 13427 (28%)
John Kennedy (R) 42562 (66%) 33424 (70%)
Others 1423 (2%) 1181 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 33539 (75%) 26313 (79%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 8667 (19%) 5063 (15%)
Others 2623 (6%) 2003 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 34634 (77%) 26470 (79%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 10260 (23%) 6977 (21%)

Current District

Before 1995, Republican representation in the legislature, particularly in the state Senate, was generally limited to affluent neighborhoods in metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge. That changed in 1995, as Republican challengers unseated several veteran Democratic state senators. This upheaval was caused by an unfolding video poker scandal, the unpopularity of the fourth Edwards administration, and increasing suburbanization in some areas. Senate District 13 was at the epicenter of this upheaval in the Senate.

Senate District 13 was created after the 1981 reapportionment, and has included all or parts of four parishes in the Florida Parishes at various times. In its current incarnation, it includes Livingston Parish north of I-12 and several suburbanizing precincts south of I-12. It then crosses the Amite River into East Baton Rouge Parish to include most of Central and suburban neighborhoods on either side of I-12 between the Amite River and Sherwood Forest Boulevard. Black voter registration is a relatively insignificant 9%, although it’s worth noting that this figure is double the 5% it was when the lines were last drawn, and is due to significant demographic changes to neighborhoods close to I-12 in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Politically, this was once a populist Democratic district when it was anchored in north Baton Rouge. Now that 68% of its voters live in Livingston Parish (which itself has received a heavy in migration from Baton Rouge), the district is solidly Republican. 3 to 1 margins are typical for Republican candidates in statewide races – even with incumbency and a strong Democratic turnout in 2008, Senator Mary Landrieu only got 31% of the vote here.

These Republican voting tendencies weren’t always the case here, particularly in terms of its legislative representation. From 1981 to 1995, Baker Democrat Mike Cross represented the area. He was comfortably, but not overwhelmingly, re-elected in 1987 and 1991. In 1995, he was upset 53-47% by Republican Mike Branch. Curiously, in that race, Livingston Parish still voted Democratic, but Branch was helped by a strong Republican vote from the Central precincts in East Baton Rouge Parish. Branch retired after a term, and was replaced by a fellow Republican, then-state Representative Clo Fontenot (who, coincidentally, also defeated a Democratic incumbent in 1995 in Livingston Parish). Democrats didn’t even put up a candidate that year, and Fontenot defeated a Republican 70-30%. In 2003, Senator Fontenot was unopposed. Though Senator Fontenot could have served until 2011, he chose to retire in 2007. Republican state representative Dale Erdey quickly jumped into the race and was automatically elected when no one decided to challenge him. He is allowed to serve two more terms.

New District

Robust population growth along the I-12 and I-10 corridors resulted in the creation of a new Senate district between Baton Rouge and Hammond. Senate District 13 itself was 34% over the population of an “ideal” Senate district (and in fact was the 2nd most populous state senate district) and was pared back. All of East Baton Rouge Parish (except for two precincts in Central) was removed from the district. In Livingston Parish, a handful of precincts south of I-12 and near the Tangipahoa line were traded between adjacent districts. Finally, a handful of precincts in southern Tangipahoa Parish between the Livingston Parish line and Ponchatoula were added. These changes had little political effect, although the removal of most of East Baton Rouge Parish reduced the black voter registration from 9 to 3% and have further strengthened the already strong Republican leanings of the district; in fact, this district is not the most Republican senate district as measured by its political performance in recent elections. Senator Erdey (or Republicans in general) should have little trouble winning in this district.