Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 82

Incumbent – Cameron Henry (R – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

House District 82

Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 12099 (68%) 16002 (74%)
Barack Obama (D) 5404 (30%) 5330 (25%)
Others 316 (2%) 376 (2%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 8365 (48%) 9148 (43%)
John Kennedy (R) 8707 (50%) 11779 (55%)
Others 420 (2%) 431 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 7626 (66%) 10546 (72%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 3339 (29%) 3393 (23%)
Others 674 (6%) 740 (5%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 7651 (66%) 10605 (73%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 3888 (34%) 3978 (27%)

Current District

House District 82 is located in Jefferson and Orleans Parishes, and can be thought of as having three parts. (1)  precincts on the Eastbank of Jefferson Parish bordered by Airline Highway, the Soniat Canal, and the Orleans Parish line, (2) an area north of Airline Highway along Transcontinental Drive stretching into Metairie, and (3) a small section of Uptown New Orleans south of St Charles Avenue between Lowerline and the Jefferson Parish line.

This is a district with a relatively small (11%, up from 9% a decade ago) black voter registration and a decided, but not overwhelming, 2 to 1 preference for Republican candidates. This is due to the varied demography of the district. A perfect example of this is the 2010 Senate race. In the precincts north of Airline that are more white collar (and cast 52% of the district vote), you have a 3% black voter registration, and David Vitter was the clear favorite here, defeating Charlie Melancon 76-18%. The Jefferson Parish precincts south of Airline are more blue collar (41% of the district vote is cast here) and racially mixed: the black voter registration is 20%, and Vitter carried these precincts 57-37%. In the precincts in Uptown New Orleans that cast the remaining 7% of the vote, you have a very strong white liberal presence here, and these 22% black precincts voted 70-22% for Charlie Melancon.

Despite the varied demography and pockets of Democratic preference, Republicans’ dominance of this district has never been in question, and while it re-elects its legislators, they all tend to seek higher office, with carrying degrees of success. Quentin Dastague represented the district from 1980 to 1996. Elected as a Democrat, he was one of several Democrats who switched parties in 1984 as a reaction against the tax hike pushed through by the Legislature by the third Edwards administration. He was easily re-elected in 1987 and 1991, and retired in 1995 to make an abortive attempt at running for Governor. He was succeeded by Republican Steve Scalise, who served for 12 years without much incident. Scalise himself sought higher office twice: in 2004, he made an abortive attempt to run for Congress when David Vitter vacated the seat to run successfully for the Senate (Bobby Jindal was ultimately elected in that race). The second time he sought higher office was in 2007, when term limits forced him to vacate his House seat: he successfully ran for a vacant state senate seat (and later got himself elected to Congress after Jindal was elected Governor).

In the 2007 race to succeed Rep. Scalise, business analyst (and former Scalise aide) Cameron Henry defeated a fellow Republican with 57% of the vote (Democrats didn’t even field a candidate). It certainly didn’t hurt that he had the endorsement of the Alliance for Good Government (Rep. Joe Lopinto from a neighboring district also received this endorsement). (UPDATED 9/9/2011) Rep. Henry is allowed to serve two more terms, and was unopposed in 2011.

New District

Though redistricting in Jefferson Parish was not as unpleasant as it was in Orleans Parish, you still had a situation where a district in Metairie had to be eliminated (it was combined with a seat in the Lakeview section of New Orleans). And District 82 itself was 7% under the population of an “ideal” district. The Orleans Parish precincts were removed from the district and placed in District 98 (represented by Democrat Neil Abramson). In Jefferson Parish, the Old Metairie precincts that were once in District 81 (represented by Republican John LaBruzzo) were added to the district, while “Metairie” precincts north of I-10 were removed and placed in adjacent districts.

These changes reduced the black voter registration from 11 to 8%. That, combined with the removal of the New Orleans precincts, pushed the district further to the right. Rep. Henry or any other Republican shouldn’t have any election/re-election issues here: it’ll be interesting to see if Rep. Henry follows in the footsteps of his predecessors and seeks higher office at some point.