INCUMBENT: John Smith (Republican)
DESCRIPTION: Senate District 30 is located along the western side of the state and includes all of Beauregard and Vernon Parishes. It also includes the northern and westernmost portions of Calcasieu Parish. The overall tone of this district is rural, although there has been some suburban development along US Highway 171 just to the north of Lake Charles both in Calcasieu and Beauregard Parishes.
RED/BLUE RATING (using 2008, 2012, and 2014 elections): 74% Republican
JMCEL’s SUMMARY: Senate District 30 is a district that once voted Democratic in legislative and, more often than not, in top of the ballot races. That has recently changed, as the district started voting overwhelmingly for Republicans in Presidential races, then in statewide races. In legislative races, there are now signs of Republican strength here, although there are still Democratic legislators who can and have been elected here.
This is also a Senate district that typically holds onto its incumbents for a long time. The last Senator here was (then) Democrat James David Cain, who was a Democratic House member from 1972 to 1992, but when this Senate seat opened up in 1991 (a 24 year Senate incumbent was retiring), he was elected in the primary and served for four terms without much trouble, although he switched to the Republican Party before his 2003 re-election. When he was term limited in 2007, term limited representative (and former Democrat) John Smith faced two opponents and was elected against a more liberal Democrat in the runoff with 52% of the vote. After the 2010 elections, Sen. Smith similarly switched to the Republican Party, (REVISED 8/4/2015) and was re-elected in the 2011 runoff with 59% of the vote against former senator Cain. Senator Smith is allowed to serve one more term, and given the district’s rightward tilt (in every statewide race between 2010-2014, the Republican candidate has gotten between 71 and 80% of the vote), he should be in good shape for re-election this fall. There are still enough ambitious Democratic officeholders here, however, for this to be a competitive district from a partisan perspective, and it’ll be interesting to see to what extent they try to compete here in current and future elections.