SADOW: Kenny Cox Is Whining That He Can’t Pick His Successor

You could envision the tears of cynicism streaming from Democrat state Rep. Kenny Cox, triggered because he couldn’t set up a family dynasty.

Earlier this week when the Louisiana House of Representatives’ House and Governmental Affairs Committee considered reapportioning itself, Cox came before it to argue against HB 14 by Speaker Clay Schexnayder, and implicitly in favor of the only alternative Democrats want to pursue, HB 15 by Democrat state Rep. Sam Jenkins. HB 14 moves Cox’s District 23 to New Orleans while HB 15 leaves it roughly in place, sending HD 5 instead to New Orleans.

In Schexnayder’s bill, HD 5 based in Caddo Parish would become a majority Bossier Parish district, plus tacking on Red River Parish and remain majority white in voting age composition. HD 23 would remain a majority-minority district, and HD 62 held by no party Roy Daryl Adams would become M/M, thereby adding one such district over the current registration numbers.

Adams famously crossed Schexnayder on a deal to support override of at least one Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards veto in last summer’s veto session. HB 15 largely would preserve his district, making HD 5 the one extra M/M district over current numbers.

The changes came about because of population changes that saw losses in the north and gains in the south. Because of geography that has Texas and Arkansas surround northwest Louisiana, that made inevitable an adjustment in that area. Further complicating matters, incumbents who by definition control reapportionment like to keep their districts as close to the same as possible, and in the area there were only two term-limited House members – HD 5’s Republican state Rep. Alan Seabaugh and HD 23’s Cox. (And an incumbency protection bias is perfectly constitutional as long as it adheres to equiproportional district sizes and does not draw districts that use race as the dominant criterion, whether to obstruct or ensure election of minority candidates.)

Thus, it’s no accident that these two districts would find themselves warped considerably in any plan. Nevertheless, Cox found the goring of his oxen objectional as opposed to the alternative. Claiming this caused his sleepless nights, he bemoaned, “I have not been able to rest. Because we have a collective group, a historic district where people have something to vote for the first time in over 300 years.”

Cox has a tendency on the floor or in committee to speak turgidly, but apparently he meant the creation of HD 23 as M/M in 2011 that facilitated his election – after decades of it being a white majority district entered in Natchitoches – meant enfranchisement of blacks for the first time in three centuries, never mind the Civil War Amendments and their delayed full implementation beginning over a half-century ago accomplished that well in advance of the 21st century. What he didn’t note was how tremendously convoluted the current HD 23 turned out in order to fulfill his assertion.

This district currently is nothing but gerrymandered to prompt election of a black candidate. Hampered by not having any urban areas with large concentrations of black residents, it meanders from nearly into Caddo through De Soto and through parts Red River and Natchitoches nearly to Rapides, picking off as many black residents as possible. It largely does the same in HB 15.


Worse, in that bill it takes the current HD 7, which is the rest of De Soto where HD 23 doesn’t knife into it and northern Sabine and forces it out of the latter and wraps it into Caddo. By contrast, HB 14 creates a relatively compact HD 7 that takes up all of De Soto, most of where it was in Sabine, and a slight slice of Caddo as well as makes a compact HD 5. As far as northwest Louisiana goes, HB 14 creates much more compact, much less convoluted districts.

But the kicker is keeping the convoluted HD 23, which included M/M precincts reaching into Coushatta, allows Cox’s brother Johnny, a Democrat, to run in that district. Under HB 14, his precinct falls into what would be a Republican-favored district.

So, that’s what this really is all about. Even though HB 14 would produce the same number of M/M districts as HB 15, even though it creates more compact districts that do a better job of keeping communities of interest together, because it severely reduces the chances of his brother succeeding him, he decries HB 14 as somehow turning back the clock on race and therefore isn’t worth enacting, or at least without amendment to restore HD 23 to something like the Gorbachev port wine stain as it is today.

Cox has the right to whine that his had to be the district dismantled, but the disingenuous of his complaint demeans democratic discourse to insinuate race has something to do with it as a cover for trying to start a family political dynasty that would demand drawing a district on the basis of race.



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