Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 22

Incumbent – Billy Chandler (R – Term Limited)

District Map

House District 22

Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 15134 (79%) 15234 (80%)
Barack Obama (D) 3730 (19%) 3443 (18%)
Others 323 (2%) 343 (2%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 6107 (33%) 6156 (34%)
John Kennedy (R) 11794 (64%) 11584 (63%)
Others 590 (3%) 628 (3%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 8311 (73%) 8249 (73%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 2120 (19%) 2104 (19%)
Others 998 (9%) 911 (8%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 8147 (72%) 7940 (72%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 3172 (28%) 3141 (28%)

Current District

District 22 is located in central Louisiana and contains all of Grant and LaSalle Parishes, the southeastern portion of Winn Parish, and a rural precinct in northeast Rapides Parish. It has a 14% black voter registration, which is actually a slight decrease from 15% when the lines were last drawn.

Politically, this is a solidly Republican district if you’re looking at its political performance in national and statewide elections. This performance has strengthened in recent years, as Democratic preferences have weakened in recent years in the rural parts of the state, and as there has been some suburban growth moving into Grant Parish.

At the legislative level, this district until recently was Democratic friendly, but unlike other districts in north Louisiana, has not been particularly friendly to incumbents. In 1987 and 1991, it defeated its incumbents, and former incumbent Tommy Wright (who served from 1995 to 2006) was only re-elected against Republican challengers with 52% of the vote both in 1999 and 2003. His political career ended in 2005 when he pled guilty to charges that he and another man were caught in a lewd act in a public bathroom near Alexandria.

In the special election which was held, Grant Parish Democrat Billy Chandler ran against LaSalle Parish Republican Tony Owens (who nearly defeated Wright in 2003). Chandler won that election in the runoff with 54% in a “friends and neighbors” contest: he carried Winn and Rapides, and swept Grant Parish with 76% of the vote. Since Grant was the largest parish that cast about half of the vote, this more than compensated for the 2 to 1 margin Owens received in LaSalle. Rep. Chandler went on to win his first full term in 2007 with 64% of the vote. He is allowed to serve two more terms, and to further strengthen his re-election chances, he switched to the Republican Party earlier this year.

New District

Reapportionment in Central Louisiana was a bit complicated because of the perceived need to create new black majority districts to compensate for the loss of representation in New Orleans. Two new black majority districts were created: one in Monroe, and one near Natchitoches. Additionally, the district was 7% over the population of the “ideal” district.

Therefore, these external factors, in addition to the fact that Rep. Chandler was from Grant Parish, drove the drawing of the new district lines. A finger of territory in LaSalle Parish stretching into Jena was removed and placed into District 20 (held by Noble Ellington). Similarly, the precincts in southeast Winn Parish (which were 38% black) and a rural precinct in northeast Rapides Parish were removed and placed into Districts 13 (represented by Jim Fannin) and 27(represented by Chris Hazel), respectively.

With these areas removed, the district moved towards the northwest. Red River Parish (except for some black precincts near Coushatta) was added to the district from District 24, and a section of Natchitoches Parish northeast of the city of Natchitoches was taken from District 23. To connect this new territory to Grant and LaSalle, a precinct in southwest Winn Parish was also taken from District 23.

The end result of these changes was a slight reduction in the black voter registration from 14 to 12%. The main political impact to these changes was the preservation of the Grant Parish base (its influence went from 46 to 48% of the district’s voters): the district will remain heavily Republican. Rep. Chandler shouldn’t have re-election worries; it will be interesting to see if the next representative will come from Grant Parish, since the 52% of the vote that is not in Grant is split amongst four other parishes.