Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – Senate District 3

Incumbent – J.P. Morrell (D – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

Senate District 3


Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 6664 (19%) 11702 (25%)
Barack Obama (D) 27096 (79%) 33537 (73%)
Others 461 (1%) 661 (1%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 27849 (85%) 36164 (82%)
John Kennedy (R) 4480 (14%) 7054 (16%)
Others 582 (2%) 792 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 4214 (19%) 6312 (21%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 17069 (76%) 21741 (73%)
Others 1114 (5%) 1551 (5%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 4737 (21%) 6681 (23%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 17695 (79%) 22760 (77%)

Current District

Senate District 3 is a meandering district that includes parts of New Orleans and the Westbank of Jefferson Parish. It begins in the town of Marrero, then it travels along the Mississippi River up to the ferry landing in Algiers to pick up black majority neighborhoods in Harvey and Marrero. It then crosses the Mississippi River into New Orleans, where it includes a swath of territory between Elysian Fields and the Industrial Canal all the way up to the Lakefront.

Demographically, the district has a solid 65% black voting majority, which is unchanged from when the lines were last drawn. The Westbank precincts cast 35% of the vote and are 57% black by voter registration. The remainder (and majority) of the votes are cast in New Orleans, and this portion is 69% black, although it does include white majority neighborhoods in the French Quarter, Bywater, Marigny and the Lakeshore.

The coalition of black voters, white liberals in most of the white neighborhoods in New Orleans, and blue collar voters in the Westbank create a formidable Democratic coalition, and Democrats typically get about 80% of the vote in contested elections.

The district has generally had stable representation in the state Senate. Black Democrat Dennis Bagneris was elected in 1983 and served until his 1999 resignation upon his election to the state Appeals Court – he had the curious distinction of running unopposed each time he ran for re-election. He was succeeded in a special election by Lambert Boissiere. After his initial 55% victory, he was unopposed in 1999 and was re-elected with 72% of the vote in 2003. He resigned in 2005 to take a Constable’s position inNew Orleans. Though several sought to succeed him, the surprise winner was state representative Derrick Shepherd from Marrero (in the Westbank), whose 51% victory in the primary was accomplished by receiving a whopping 89% of the vote in Jefferson Parish, while getting a respectable 33% of the vote in New Orleans.

Senator Shepherd was clearly ambitious from the beginning: a year after his election to the Louisiana Senate, he challenged (then) indicted Congressman William Jefferson in 2006 and finished in third place with 18%. Despite that showing, he was still re-elected to his Senate seat in 2007 with 61% of the vote, with similar percentages in both parishes.

Senator Shepherd, however, was indicted on money laundering charges in 2008, and he pled guilty and resigned his Senate seat in October 2008. A special election was held, and state representative J.P. Morrell from New Orleans defeated Shawn Barney (who ran against Shepherd in 2007) with 55% of the vote. Curiously, he only received 56% of the vote in the Orleans Parish precincts, which is noteworthy, when you consider that the Morrells have been involved in New Orleans politics for some time. Senator Morrell is allowed to serve two more terms.

New District

Reapportionment within the city of New Orleans was not an easy task, given the massive population losses. District 4 was 32% under populated; only two other senate districts (Districts 2 and 4, both in New Orleans), had less people. Major adjustments had to be made to the district lines here and elsewhere in New Orleans. However, from a political standpoint, both Senators Morrell and Willard-Lewis were easy to sacrifice, since they both were in their first term. And that’s what happened: the two districts were combined, although the combined district still had to add more territory to get up to the necessary population.

The district’s portion of Jefferson Parish was left intact, and a significant portion of Saint Bernard Parish northwest of Paris Road and south of Judge Perez was added to the district. In New Orleans, the district had to give up some precincts near SUNO and along Elysian Fields near Claiborne to Senate District 4 (represented by Ed Murray). Finally, the portions of Senate District 2 (represented by Cynthia Willard-Lewis) south of Morrison Road were combined with District 3. This will be an interesting contest, because the changes made to this combined district not only reduced the black voter registration to 60%, but there is a lot of new terrotity for each senator. In the newly drawn district, Senator Morrell has represented 51% of the voters, Senator Willard-Lewis has represented another 28%, and the section of Saint Bernard added (which is only 14% black) is unfamiliar territory to either senator. This is a situation where the white minority could make the difference in this contest, assuming that both senators run against each other. Other than this special circumstance, this will be a heavily Democratic district.