Acadiana Democrats: Stayin' Alive?

by Heather Miller

Hold off on the obituary.'

Acadiana lawmakers have been steadily flocking to the Republican Party as part of a statewide push for a supermajority, but this year's legislative race circuit has shown a notable foothold for area Democrats who won four state representative seats in the Acadiana Delegation.

On Saturday,  Carencro home builder Stephen Ortego beat Republican St. Landry Parish President Don Menard in District 39. In District 44, Vince Pierre ousted incumbent Democratic state Rep. Rickey Hardy, who was targeted for his relationships with Lafayette Republicans like City-Parish President Joey Durel and supporting several initiatives of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. Terry Landry's win in the newly created minority District 96 brought a third Democratic victory in Acadiana, with incumbent state Rep. Jack Montoucet of Scott defeating Republican challenger Anthony Emmons in the District 42 primary to round out the fourth win.

"Lafayette Democrats were active in these four legslative races," says local attorney and Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee member Lester Gauthier. "Hold off on the obituary. We're not dead yet."

Baton Rouge political consultant John Couvillon, according to post-election analysis posted on his website, agrees:

Overall, Republicans had a respectable year, but Democrats demonstrated in multiple instances that they were and are still capable of winning elections when they decide to compete. In the Senate, the partisan balance was established after the October primary, and is 24 Republicans and 15 Democrats, for a gain of two Republicans (both pickups came from term limited Democrats). In the House, the Republicans netted a one seat gain (two of their incumbents lost in partisan contests), and that chamber will have 58 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and 2 Independents. What are we to take from last night's results?

Despite Republican dreams of legislative supermajorities, Democrats are still capable of generating a healthy turnout, and it was this turnout that arguably helped elect Democrats in House races from Minden to Natchitoches to Lafayette.

Check out Wednesday's Independent for complete analysis on the most critical - and contentious - races of the year.