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Apr 14, 2011 12:02 AM by Jim Hummel

Congressional Redistricting: What it Means for Acadiana

With a few hours to spare in the special session, state lawmakers reached a compromise on congressional redistricting that would shrink the state's seven districts down to six.

"It's probably not the best situation, but knowing that we were going down to the number six, the most important and overriding factor was that we kept Acadiana and the I-10 corridor whole," said state Rep. Joel Robideaux, I-Lafayette, who voted in favor of the bill.

The plan will keep five Republican districts in the state and one majority black district. In Acadiana, the district represented by Republican Congressman Jeff Landry is essentially absorbed into other districts, including the ammended Lafayette/Lake Charles district which most closely resembles U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany's current seat.

Since Iberia, St. Martin, and St. Mary Parishes were absorbed into that Lafayette/Lake Charles district, should both Landry and Boustany choose to run for re-election in 2012, the two republicans would be forced to run against one another.

Boustany released a statement Wednesday afternoon, reading in part: "I especially applaud our local legislators for fighting on behalf of Coastal Southwest Louisiana and Acadiana."

Landry could not be reached for comment Wednesday night, but the plan comes to the dismay, however, of those like himself who pushed for a central coastal district. Rep. Taylor Barras, D-New Iberia also pushed for a similar district, and voted against the bill which passed Wednesday.

"It's not ideal," said Barras. "But we're with the rest of Acadiana, so if there's a silver lining in that, Iberia, St. Martin, St. Mary join the rest of Acadiana."

Elsewhere in Acadiana, Evangeline Parish will remain in a northern district, while St. Landry Parish will be split among three districts; the two northern districts and the Lafayette/Lake Charles district.

"I think that it's very unfair for the residents of St. Landry Parish to have three congressional representatives and I feel that it dilutes the voice of St. Landry Parish," said Rep. Ledricka Johnson Thierry, D-Opelousas, who voted against the bill.

Jindal's office said Wednesday that he would sign the measure, which would then have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.

To view a copy of the new congressional map, click here.

Jim Hummel

Material from the Associated Press was included in this report.

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