Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 83

Incumbent – Robert Billiot (D – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

House District 83

Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 6890 (45%) 6422 (34%)
Barack Obama (D) 8193 (53%) 12087 (64%)
Others 270 (2%) 271 (1%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 10182 (69%) 13528 (76%)
John Kennedy (R) 4163 (28%) 3909 (22%)
Others 368 (3%) 369 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 3728 (40%) 3423 (30%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 5077 (54%) 7420 (64%)
Others 585 (6%) 666 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 3527 (38%) 3318 (29%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 5769 (62%) 8094 (71%)

Current District

Though Jefferson Parish has been typecast as predominately Republican suburbia, there is actually considerable economic and racial diversity here. District 83 is one of the more Democratic districts. It is located on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish and includes Westwego and suburbs (BridgeCity, Avondale, Waggaman) between Westwego and the St. Charles Parish line. 42% of its registered voters are black (up from 35% when the lines were last drawn), which when you combine with the blue collar neighborhoods in the district makes this one of the most Democratic white majority districts in the state.

This Democratic dominance means that Democrats can count on receiving at least 60% of the vote in statewide elections, while in Presidential elections, Democrats (even Barack Obama) can count on about 55% of the vote here.

This district has also had very stable legislative representation: from 1971 (when the district was created) to 2007, John Alario (who during his House tenure was a Democrat) was its only representative. He nearly always was unopposed: even when he did get an opponent in 1995, he was re-elected with 70% of the vote. And in addition to his electoral invulnerability, he was a major player during his House tenure: during the third and fourth Edwards administrations, he was Speaker of the House, while at other times, he chaired Appropriations. Though he was close to former Governor Edwards, John Maginnis once noted in 1995 that he “excels at counting votes and massaging a consensus, based on his continuous communication with House members, both in and out of session.”

Term limits forced Rep. Alario to retire in 2007, but a term limited Senate seat on the Westbank was available, and he was easily elected. His retirement created an open seat situation, with two Democrats and a Republican running. Westwego mayor Robert Billiot edged into a runoff against Republican attorney Danyelle Taylor with a 36-34% lead. Though the third place finisher Ron Austin (who was black) endorsed Billiot, Taylor came on strong in the runoff and lost by only 51-49%. This level of support in this district was impressive for a Republican, as she received about 20% of the black vote. And she would have won except for the fact that Billiot had an impressive get out the vote effort in his hometown of Westwego – the Westwego precincts, which represented 27% of the district’s registered voters, cast 30% of the district vote in the primary and 34% in the runoff.  Rep. Billiot is allowed to serve two more terms.

New District

Population losses in Orleans and Jefferson Parish made redistricting a tricky proposition for the area. District 83 was especially complicated, because you had a district that was 11% under populated and a substantial black voter base. The solution was to convert this district into a 55% black majority (by voter registration) district. This was accomplished by trading white precincts in Marrero for black precincts that were in District 87 (represented by black Democrat Girod Jackson). Additionally, a black majority precinct south of Marrero was removed from District 84 (represented by Republican Pat Connick). While these changes make this an even more Democratic friendly district that voted 2 to 1 for Barack Obama and Charlie Melancon, the question is whether the 55% black voting majority is enough to elect a black Democrat as long as Rep. Billiot seeks re-election.