Decision 2015: JMCEL’s “bite sized politics” (Senate District 6)

INCUMBENT: “Bodi” White (Republican)

DESCRIPTION: Senate District 6 is a sprawling district that is located in the Florida Parishes and contains parts of four parishes. It begins in Ponchatoula in Tangipahoa Parish and travels up I-55 almost to the town of Independence. It then includes two connecting pieces: a “connecting precinct” in northeast Livingston Parish, and the southern fringe of Saint Helena Parish south of LA 16. Those pieces then connect to East Baton Rouge Parish, where the district meanders south through most of Central, on the way to picking up most of the southeastern portion of East Baton Rouge Parish between O’Neal Lane and the Amite River.


District Map

District Map









RED/BLUE RATING (using 2008, 2012, and 2014 elections): 68% Republican

JMCEL’s SUMMARY: Senate District 6 is the one state senate district that has twice (in recent memory) seen its basic personality change overnight as a result of reapportionment. Prior to 1991, it was based in Uptown New Orleans and Metairie. The 1991 redistricting made this a much more elongated district by crossing Lake Pontchartrain to include portions of Saint Tammany and southern Tangipahoa Parishes. There was a political reason for this reconfiguration: when the seat opened up in 1987, representative (and former House Speaker) John Hainkel was elected to the seat, and he was not a favorite of former Senate President Sammy Nunez, who was reinstalled as Senate President in a 1990 leadership coup that ousted Governor Roemer’s handpicked choice. This leadership change had political repercussions: the late John Maginnis noted that the two underlying themes of the 1991 reapportionment were “to protect the leadership’s majority destroy its opponents.”

While Senator Hainkel saw his re-election percentage drop to 62% in 1991, he was able to entrench himself in subsequent elections until his death in 2005. He was succeeded in a special election later that year by Metairie Republican Julie Quinn, who represented the district until it was eliminated in the 2011 reapportionment.

The 2011 reapportionment again changed the basic character of the district by moving it “across the lake” to Baton Rouge and Hammond, with territory in Livingston and Saint Helena Parish connecting the two cities. On paper, this new configuration favored East Baton Rouge Parish (60% of the vote was cast there), but the East Baton Rouge precincts contained portions of Central and southeast Baton Rouge, which are two distinct parts of the parish. The newest incarnation of the district has a basic Republican preference, but the district has a 23% black voter registration, as it contains black neighborhoods in Hammond and along O’Neal Lane in Baton Rouge.

In the open seat race in 2011, two Republicans sought the seat, and (then) Representative “Bodi” White was able to eke out a 52% victory, thanks to a strong vote from the southeast Baton Rouge precincts. Senator White is allowed to serve two more terms, and is probably a safe bet for re-election, although the fact that the district is an amalgamation of three distinct areas (Central, southeast Baton Rouge, and Hammond/Ponchatoula) makes representing this district a challenge for any incumbent.