Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 50

Incumbent – Sam Jones (D – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

House District 50

Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 9375 (55%) 10075 (54%)
Barack Obama (D) 7350 (43%) 8401 (45%)
Others 282 (2%) 315 (2%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 8823 (55%) 10016 (57%)
John Kennedy (R) 6812 (42%) 7260 (41%)
Others 411 (3%) 445 (3%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 6048 (54%) 6418 (52%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 4581 (41%) 5220 (42%)
Others 624 (6%) 684 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 6255 (56%) 6665 (54%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 4971 (44%) 5632 (46%)

Current District

House District 50 is one district which would best fit the stereotype others have about Louisiana, as it contains swamps, plantations, sugarcane, and the oil industry. House District 50 itself contains St. Mary Parish west of the Atchafalaya, as well as the lower portion of Saint Martin Parish, and a single precinct in Iberia Parish. This is a district with a significant black voter registration that has slightly increased from 35 to 36% over the past decade.

District 50 was once the kind of district that regularly voted Democratic in “down ballot” races, while narrowly voting Republican for President. However, in the 2010 elections, Republicans David Vitter, Jay Dardenne, and Congressional candidate Jeff Landry all carried the district, as the drilling moratorium was a millstone around the necks of Louisiana Democrats.

In legislative elections, however, Democrats are largely in control, and the district likes to keep its representatives around: since 1971, only three people have represented the district. Between 1971 and 1991, V.J. Bella represented the district. Elected as a Democrat, he switched parties in 1984, although in his case, the party switch may have hurt: he was only re-elected in 1987 with 51% of the vote. When Rep. Bella retired in 1991, he was succeeded by Jack Smith (incidentally, Smith was the candidate who held Bella to 51% of the vote in 1987), who served until term limits forced him to retire in 2007.

The demographics of the district (i.e., its 36% black voter registration) is unfavorable to a Republican, and this was one open seat race Republicans did not contest. Three Democrats sought the seat. Former Franklin Mayor Sam Jones (who, incidentally, ran for Governor in the 1991 race that produced Edwin Edwards and David Duke) was elected in the runoff with 53% of the vote, and is allowed to seek two more terms. (UPDATED 9/9/2011) He was unopposed in 2011.

New District

Redistricting wasn’t too complicated in St. Mary Parish: the district was 3% under populated, and could have been left alone (a 5% population variance is permitted). Additionally, with a new black majority district being drawn further up Bayou Teche between New Iberia and Breaux Bridge, that took the pressure off of converting this district into one with a black majority. Only minor changes were made: the Iberia Parish precinct in the district was moved to District 49 (held by Republican Simone Champagne), while in St Mary Parish, District 50 crossed the Atchafalaya River to pick up a handful of precincts in Morgan City that, in the aggregate, were 47% black.

The demographic effect of these changes was an increase in the black voter registration from 36 to 37%. Politically, the changes made the district slightly more Democratic. (UPDATED 9/9/2011) Rep. Jones shouldn’t have any re-election issues (and was unopposed in 2011); when he retires, a Democrat would likely hold the district unless you had a situation where a black Democrat makes the runoff.