Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 70

Incumbent – Franklin Foil (R – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

House District 70

Vote History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 16455 (69%) 11350 (60%)
Barack Obama (D) 6971 (29%) 7411 (39%)
Others 355 (1%) 306 (2%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 8879 (38%) 8745 (46%)
John Kennedy (R) 14192 (60%) 9721 (52%)
Others 420 (2%) 354 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 11606 (66%) 7997 (57%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 5234 (30%) 5419 (38%)
Others 854 (5%) 714 (5%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 13018 (73%) 9578 (67%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 4722 (27%) 4646 (33%)

Current District

With several districts we’ve analyzed in the Baton Rouge area, we have noted that the surge in GOP representation occurred in the 1995 elections. There actually was an earlier “surge” than that: when former Governor Edwin Edwards took office for a third time in 1984, he got massive tax increases passed through the legislature that year. That action not only spurred a recall campaign against him, but also spurred several conservative Democratic legislators to switch parties. What is worth remembering about those party switches was that they occurred at a time that Democrats represented nearly 95% of the legislature, and running as a Republican (even in conservative districts) was a dicey proposition.

One of those party switches occurred in District 70, where Carl Crane served as its representative from 1982-2007 (before that, he was on the Baton Rouge City Council from 1976-1982). District 70 itself has for decades been one of the fastest growing districts in the entire state, and it has been repeatedly pared back during reapportionment time (at one point in the 1980s, it actually included a handful of Livingston Parish precincts).

District 70 itself is a diverse collection of four distinct areas  The first part includes neighborhoods near LSU along Highland Road (College Town, Plantation Trace, Woodstone/Woodgate, and half of Kenilworth). This area was fully settled by the late 1980s, although tracts of land held by longtime landowners have been developed into small subdivisions from time to time since then – about 15% of the district voters live here. This is an area with a conservative lean, but the high education levels and multicultural diversity of the residents here (a significant number of whom are employed by LSU or the state) gives moderate to liberal candidates some traction (David Vitter only carried this 4% black area 58-37%).

Another 20% of the district population lives in rapidly growing neighborhoods along Burbank in the southwest corner of the parish. Historically, only students and younger suburbanites lived here, but the economic turbulence of the 1980s resulted in rapid demographic and racial changes, especially along Gardere Lane. Recently, the extension of Bluebonnet (a main thoroughfare) into the southwestern reaches of the parish has resulted in the rapid development of higher income subdivisions. Still, the area has had a Democratic lean to it since the early 1990s, although as time goes on, this area has become more politically marginal. This area currently has a 44% black voter registration, and Charlie Melancon carried these precincts 52-43%.

The third area, with about 30% of the district voters, consists of newer, generally high-dollar neighborhoods along the lower sections of Highland Road all the way to the Country Club of Louisiana. Politically and demographically, this area is similar to older neighborhoods closer to LSU, but with less of a moderate/liberal lean. This 10% black area supported David Vitter 69-27%.

The last section of the district also contains about 30% of the district’s voters, and consists of rapidly growing middle, upper middle, and wealthy neighborhoods south of Tiger Bend Road. This area is staunchly conservative, and its residents (10% of whom are black) voted for David Vitter 74-21%.

Overall, you’re talking about a district that has a decided Republican lean to it and a modest (most of that in the Gardere area) 17% black voter registration, which is an increase from 14% a decade ago.

In terms of legislative representation, Carl Crane represented the area for 25 years. He had surprisingly spirited competition from Democratic opponents between 1987 and 1999 after he switched parties: most likely, his strong conservative views (he was proud of his perfect LABI rating), combined with a noticeable constituency of articulate politically active moderate to liberal voters, was the reason why.

Representative Crane was term-limited in 2007. Three Republicans sought the seat. Though former Metrocouncilman (and retired economics professor) Pat Culbertson had a strong 49-40% primary lead over attorney and Navy veteran Franklin Foil, Foil upset him in the runoff 53-47% due to several factors: (1) Culbertson’s share of the vote compared to the October primary declined 6% with the early voters and in the Gardere precincts, and (2) a stronger get out the vote effort in Foil’s home base near LSU enabled those precincts (which he carried 2 to 1) to cast 19% of the district vote, as opposed to 17% of the vote in the October primary. Rep. Foil is allowed to serve two more terms.

New District

For District 70, redistricting was a painless process: it has over the years shed a lot of its territory to neighboring districts, and this time around, the fact that the district was 22% over populated should have meant that the same would happen again. 

Which largely was the case, although this time around, there was a little more finesse to the line drawing. Two adjacent districts represented by Republicans (Districts 66 and 68) had significant Democratic voting bases that in a couple of election cycles could have sparked interest from Democratic operatives. So some trades were made. All territory east of I-10 was moved over to District 66, as were the Country Club of Louisiana and the fast rapidly growing precincts off the Bluebonnet Extension – this area was 13% black and voted 71-25% for David Vitter. The lines were then smoothed out with District 68, so that District 70 now includes all precincts south of Perkins Road between Lee Drive and Pecue Lane. In practical terms, this meant that parts of Southdowns, Woodchase, Pollard Estates, Walden, part of Kenilworth, Mayfair, and Magnolia Woods were added to the district. These added precincts (particularly because of the Mayfair inclusion) were 26% black and voted for David Vitter by a narrower 51-44% margin. 

All in all, you have a more compact district that is generally between Perkins and Highland and has a 22% black voter registration. Republicans (especially Rep. Foil) are favored here, but there is just enough of a constituency of blacks and white liberals here to pique some interest with potential Democratic candidates if you had an open seat situation.