March 14, 2022 6:00am

Power Poll and John Bel Edwards agree on this

Both say Louisiana needs two Black-majority congressional districts

Photo of Drew Broach
New Orleans, LA Correspondent
 
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Gov. John Bel Edwards and Times-Picayune Power Poll members agree on this: Louisiana should have more than one Black-majority congressional district.

About 56% of poll respondents favor drawing the state's six districts to make at least two where Black people account for most of the population; 22% said no, and 22% said they were unsure.

"Louisiana is a third Black," said Asali Ecclesiastes, CEO of the Ashé Cultural Arts Center. "Representative democracy, equity and good sense dictate that our legislators should reflect our electorate."

"Voters need to feel their vote counts. Keeping one third of the population limited to one congressional district out of six due to gerrymandering is wrong," said Betsy Threefoot Kaston, past president of Jewish Family Services of Greater New Orleans board. "The entire state map needs to be redrawn with more diverse districts."

The Democratic governor on Wednesday vetoed the Legislature's map for the U.S. House of Representatives, sending redistricting back to the Republican-controlled state House and Senate. The Legislature had kept largely intact the districts that it established after the 2010 census, and that have elected white Republicans in five of the districts and a Black Democrat in the sole majority-Black district.

The Times-Picayune Power Poll results line up with those of the Lafaytte Power Poll, where 59% said Louisiana should have two Black-majority districts.

For now, Edwards' veto has put on hold the vow from some activists to sue the state for what they consider to be a better opportunity for more black representation in Congress.

Politics aside, Power Poll members overwhelmingly expressed joy for the 2022 Mardi Gras season, the first full-blown Carnival in two years.

"Carnival was something that New Orleans needed. I appreciate the tourists who chose to visit us for Mardi Gras, but for me, this Mardi Gras was one for us, all New Orleanians. The city came to life again," said Marc Ehrhardt, president and partner at The Ehrhardt Group. "My hope is that we can feed off of that energy to move quickly to address crime, garbage pickup and other items that need immediate action."

Conducted online Tuesday through Thursday, The Times-Picayune Power Poll survey is not a scientific inquiry. But because it asks questions of the top Jefferson and Orleans parish influencers in business, politics, arts, media, nonprofits and community affairs, it does afford fascinating, non-partisan insight into the thoughts and opinions of those who steer the region. Of 350 Power Poll members surveyed this week, 101 voted, for a participation rate of 29%.

On one of the state's top elections this fall, most Power Poll members don't want to see Republican U.S. Sen. John Kennedy of Madisonville win a second term. But an even larger majority predict he will be reelected.

The election is scheduled Nov. 8. Kennedy started 2022 with a huge advantage: $11.1 million in his campaign treasury.

His announced opponents are airline pilot Luke Mixon of Baton Rouge, and Gary Chambers Jr., a Baton Rouge community activist. Both are Democrats. Mixon collected less than $200,000 in his initial fundraising period; Chambers has not yet reported numbers.

"It is challenging to defeat an incumbent with a significant fundraising advantage. Sen. Kennedy is an effective fundraiser and networker going back to his terms as Treasurer," said Stan Harris, president and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. "And with the momentum appearing to favor Republicans in the mid-term, I expect he will be reelected. Trust he won't leave that to chance."

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