Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 103

Open Seat (Incumbent is Reed Henderson (D))

District Map

House District 103


Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 5290 (61%) 10955 (66%)
Barack Obama (D) 3124 (36%) 5155 (31%)
Others 246 (3%) 468 (3%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 5232 (63%) 9653 (60%)
John Kennedy (R) 2795 (34%) 5929 (37%)
Others 217 (3%) 432 (3%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 2529 (49%) 5390 (53%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 2336 (45%) 4077 (40%)
Others 324 (6%) 782 (8%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 2390 (47%) 5371 (53%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 2689 (53%) 4687 (47%)

Current District

House District 103 is located in the eastern extremities of the New Orleans metropolitan area and contains parts of Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes. In St. Bernard, it includes Arabi and parts of Chalmette along Paris Road. It also includes the easternmost extremities of the parish. The New Orleans portion of the district is similarly the eastern portions of Orleans Parish: it includes the area east of Paris Road/I-510 where human settlement abruptly ends and the swampy terrain begins.

This is a district that has seen some demographic changes: a district that was once 18% black by voter registration is now 23% black, thanks to the doubling of the black voter population in the St. Bernard precincts over the past decade. You also have a substantial Vietnamese community in the Village D’el Est neighborhood near Paris Road/I-510 and Chef Menteur Highway – the Orleans Parish portion of the district has an interesting demographic mixture of 40% black and 40% Asian.

Politically, this is a district that leans Republican, although with the increasing black population, Republicans have had “hit or miss” performances here: while John McCain comfortably carried the district, David Vitter only received a plurality here, and this was one of a few white majority districts that Jay Dardenne did not carry in his race for Lt. Governor.

Politically, this district has had a curious history, as Republicans have occasionally been competitive here. In the otherwise Democratic year of 1983 (that was when Edwin Edwards defeated Republican Dave Treen in a landslide), you actually had a Republican challenger defeating a Democratic incumbent. The Republican, “Bud Rip” Ripoll only lasted a term, and was soundly defeated by Democrat Ken Odinet in 1987. Odinet served for 20 years until term limits forced him to retire – he unsuccessfully sought a vacant state Senate seat. Even though he lost that race, his constituents gave him 67% of the vote against Republican A.G.Crowe.

There was a competitive race to succeed Rep. Odinet, as six candidates sought the seat. The three Republicans running actually received 55% of the vote between them (65% in St. Bernard and 18% in Orleans). However, Democrat Reed Henderson rallied in the runoff to win with 52% (51% in St. Bernard and 56% in Orleans). Rep. Henderson could have been elected two more terms, but he chose not to seek re-election.

New District

Hurricane Katrina inflicted massive destruction on the entire district. Not only did the eye of the hurricane pass through the district, but you had extensive flooding throughout the district that caused massive depopulation in the district (especially in St. Bernard Parish). In fact, the district was 55% under populated (only two districts – one of them also in St. Bernard Parish – had less people). Fortunately, while redistricting could have been a messy affair, the solution was actually quite simple: the combined population of Districts 103 and 104 (represented by term limited Republican Nita Hutter) equaled the population of a House district, so all of District 104 was absorbed by District 103. There were also two additional adjustments which were made: (1) three precincts in New Orleans between Paris Road/I-510 and Michoud Boulevard were absorbed by District 100 (represented by Austin Badon): these precincts were 59% black and voted 71-24% for Charlie Melancon, (2) the east bank of Plaquemines Parish was added to the district: these precincts are 60% black and voted 57-28% for Charlie Melancon.

These changes reduced the black voter population from 22 to 18%, and created a marginally more Republican constituency. This open seat race will truly be interesting to watch, because Democrats have demonstrated more durability here than they have had in similar districts elsewhere in the New Orleans metropolitan area.