Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 69

Incumbent – Erich Ponti (R – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

House District 69

Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 18520 (76%) 14411 (72%)
Barack Obama (D) 5462 (22%) 5416 (27%)
Others 333 (1%) 300 (1%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 7786 (32%) 7326 (37%)
John Kennedy (R) 15881 (66%) 12252 (61%)
Others 424 (2%) 357 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 13191 (71%) 10091 (67%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 4296 (23%) 4095 (27%)
Others 970 (5%) 842 (6%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 14774 (80%) 11449 (76%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 3788 (20%) 3676 (24%)

Current District

District 69 is located in Baton Rouge and includes the more (but generally not the most) affluent neighborhoods in town. It has an elongated shape that basically follows Jefferson Highway and Tiger Bend Road all the way to the Livingston Parish line. The western end of the district (where Jefferson Highway splits off of Government Street) includes older neighborhoods like Old Goodwood and Tara. As you travel down Jefferson Highway, the district also picks up the numerous apartment/condominium complexes along Jefferson Highway, as well as the upper middle income neighborhoods of Westminster and Jefferson Terrace. Once Tiger Bend splits off of Jefferson Highway, the district travels down Tiger Bend Road to pick up more upper middle class neighborhoods that were built in the 1970s-1990s like Parkview Oaks, Hickory Ridge, Shenandoah, and the Lake at White Oak. 

Politically, this was one of the first House districts in Louisiana that had Republican representation, and this once was one of the most Republican districts in the state. However, a combination of upper middle income families’ leaving East Baton Rouge Parish and demographic changes within East Baton Rouge Parish have slightly eroded the once near unanimous GOP support here. You now have a 12% black voter registration (up from 6% a decade ago) here that spans the economic spectrum – some blacks are moving into subdivisions like Jefferson Terrace and Hickory Ridge, while you also have lower income blacks living in older apartment complexes close to Airline Highway.

The legislative representation the area has had has been very steady. Republican Clark Gaudin was elected here in 1971 and served for 20 years. He was succeeded in 1991 by Republican Chuck McMains, who served for 10 years before resigning in midterm to return to the private sector. In the 2001 special election to succeed him, another Republican, Gary Beard, was elected in the runoff, and served until 2007 (he vacated the seat to run for Lt. Governor). 

In the open seat race to succeed Rep. Beard, four Republican political newcomers sought the seat. Remodeling contractor Erich Ponti finished first with 32% of the vote and faced retired Entergy spokesman Bill Benedetto in the runoff. Benedetto barely made the runoff by 48 votes, as Brian McNabb (who today is Congressman Cassidy’s district director) finished a very close third. In the runoff, Ponti’s assertion that he would not let anyone out-campaign him paid off: he was elected with 63% of the vote. He is allowed to serve two more terms, and he recently distinguished himself by shepherding an “11th hour” compromise Congressional plan through the Legislature. (UPDATED 9/9/2011) He was unopposed in 2011.

New District

Redistricting was not a big deal in Baton Rouge, because with robust population growth in the area, blacks and Republicans in could each say that they got a good deal. The population growth meant that demographic changes in East Baton Rouge Parish over the last decade were implicitly recognized by drawing a new black majority district. For the Republicans, several seats that could have become shaky (from a demographic standpoint) in one or two election cycles were shored up. 

District 69 itself was 11% overpopulated and had to be pared back. However, part of the “shoring up” of two mildly Republican districts meant that Jefferson/Terrace (11% black, and David Vitter carried these precincts 69-25%) was removed and placed into District 68 (represented by Republican Steve Carter). All of the Lake at White Oak, as well as subdivisions between Coursey and Harrell’s Ferry Road, were removed and placed into District 66 (represented by Republican Hunter Greene) – that area was 9% black and voted for David Vitter 75-20%. District 69 then picked up from District66 Broadmoor, a portion of Sherwood Forest, Cedarcrest, and Royal Ascot. This area is 20% black, and voted 61-33% for Vitter.

The sum total of these changes is a district with a slightly higher black voter registration (it increased from 12 to 15%), and one that is closer into town now. Republicans should have no trouble winning this district.