Jindal Weighs In For Two Vertical Congressional Districts

After a week of confusion about whether Gov. Bobby Jindal was going to get involved decisively in the congressional redistricting fight, there is no longer any doubt about where he stands.

Jindal is in favor – in principle – of the Kostelka plan, which maintains two districts running from the Arkansas state line south into Acadiana and southwest Louisiana.

Last week it was reported that Jindal had backed the two-vertical-districts map put out by Senate Governmental Affairs Committee chairman Bob Kostelka (R-Monroe), who is heading up the state senate’s congressional redistricting operations. Jindal’s spokesman Kyle Plotkin denied, however, that the concept of splitting Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes into separate congressional districts, which is a big part of the plan’s treatment of South Louisiana, was something they favor in particular.

Except so far, nobody has come forward with an alternative which keeps the two Bayou Parishes together – or at least not one which has generated much momentum in either the Senate committee or the one in the House headed by Rep. Rick Gallot. The House committee is spending all of its time on congressional maps which include an “I-20 district”  – an east-west district which pairs Shreveport with at least part of Monroe, and then a sizable district to the south of that which picks up the central part of the state along with a big chunk of Acadiana.

Gallot’s plans for an I-20 district have been panned even by people who generally support the idea – because the map he drew up when initially presenting the plan made for a 42 percent black district and chopped up Monroe so as to send all the white parts of town into the Central Louisiana district. The general feeling is that such a map might be a pretty good one for an aspiring black North Louisiana politician to have in hand if he wanted to challenge Rep. John Fleming – and it’s a rather bizarre piece of irony (not really) that Gallot is just such a politician. Opponents of an I-20 district cite the importance of keeping Ft. Polk (Leesville) and Barksdale Air Force Base (Bossier City) in the same district so as to insure its representative a spot on the House Armed Services Committee.

So while the majority of the congressional maps being drawn do have them together, little is being done about the Lafourche-Terrebonne concerns. Nothing is being done about the fact that Baton Rouge is being chopped up by the most prominent congressional plan. And the people in the Lafayette and Lake Charles markets who are seeing large chunks of their suburbs shipped off to the two vertical districts the governor has come out in favor of apparently will have to take one for the team for the next 10 years.

Last week Kostelka lost control of his committee amid verbal fights with black legislators. This week, who knows?

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