Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – Senate District 18

Incumbent – Jody Amedee (R – Term Limited in 2015)

District Map

Senate District 18

Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 44376 (62%) 38003 (77%)
Barack Obama (D) 26108 (36%) 10799 (22%)
Others 1076 (2%) 819 (2%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 34705 (50%) 18802 (39%)
John Kennedy (R) 33080 (48%) 28761 (59%)
Others 1455 (2%) 1147 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 26782 (56%) 23332 (69%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 18228 (38%) 8577 (25%)
Others 2668 (6%) 2062 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 28198 (59%) 24411 (72%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 19397 (41%) 9594 (28%)

 Current Distrct

Historically, the River Parishes were a Democratic stronghold, due to the combination of blacks and blue-collar workers employed by the numerous petrochemical plants in the area. This has recently begun to change in some areas as upper middle class Baton Rougeans (and in some cases after Hurricane Katrina, New Orlenians) began to move en masse into Ascension Parish in the 1990s, thus making Ascension Parish one of the fastest growing parishes in the state, as well as one where Republican voting strength has accelerated.

District 18 is centered in Ascension Parish, but also includes southern Livingston Parish, all of St. James Parish, and the southern portion of St. John Parish. Ascension Parish has received a significant influx of Baton Rougeans and New Orleanians and grew 40% during the past decade – the highest rate of growth of any parish. It once cast 62% of the vote but now contains 67% of the district’s voters now. The district’s portion of Livington, though more rural, has also seen some suburbanization and casts another 13% of the vote. St. James and St.John Parishes are heavily Democratic thanks to large concentrations of African-Americans and unionized blue collar voters and cast the remaining 20% of the vote.

This district epitomizes the changing politics in the River Parishes. Once, the district was safe territory for populist Democrats, but the growth in Ascension and, to some extent, in Livingston Parish has pushed the district far enough to the right to where it now votes slightly more Republican than the statewide average in contested statewide races.

These demographic changes have also begun to impact recent Senate races here. For years, District 18 was represented by populist Democrats like Louis Lambert and Joe Sevario. Occasionally their dominance was threatened, but there always seemed to be enough populist votes to spare for them to win. When Lambert retired in 2003, there was a spirited race to succeed him, with several Democrats and—for the first time—serious Republicans running. The Republicans, however, were split between two candidates, and Democrat Jody Amedee ended up winning the seat with 52% of the vote, with strong margins from St James and St John Parishes. Despite heavy Republican in migration, Senator Amedee was unopposed for his 2007 re-election, but decided to switch to the Republican Party earlier this year. (UPDATED 9/9/2011) He is allowed to serve one more term, and was unopposed in 2011.

New District

Despite the fact that this was the fastest growing Senate district in the state (the district was 35% overpopulated), there were two challenges presented by redistricting: (1) Which precincts needed to be removed from the district, (2) How best to draw a new black majority district to replace the one eliminated in New Orleans. Since demographics supported the creation of a new black majority district in the River Parishes, that meant that the population overages in the district could be used to help create this new district. This meant that St John and most of St James were placed in the new district. Similarly, the black precincts in Ascension Parish (the west side of the parish, and territory between Highway 44 and the Mississippi River) were also removed. Finally, a handful of precincts in southern Livingston Parish were traded with Senate District 13 (represented by Republican Dale Erdey). These changes had a dramatic impact on the district, as the black voter registration plummeted from 26 to 11%, and the typical Republican performance shot up to about 70% for contested statewide elections.