Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Louisiana's Anh 'Joseph' Cao, First Vietnamese-American in Congress, a Rare GOP Loss

4 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
Anh "Joseph" Cao was widely seen as a congressman of genuine integrity at a time when voters were looking for politicians they could trust, a man who seemed able to overcome the odds without losing his soul.

A freshman Republican from Louisiana's strongly Democratic 2nd District, Cao sometimes bucked his party's leadership but at other times took positions at odds with the views of his constituents. He was a Vietnamese-American -- the first elected to Congress -- in a district that was 60 percent black, a onetime Catholic seminarian who in 2008 defeated an African-American Democrat who was under indictment for corruption.

But inspiration could not overcome political realities on the ground, and on Tuesday, Cao was soundly defeated, 65-33 percent, by Cedric Richmond, a black Democrat and longtime statehouse representative.

Still, there was an argument to be made that Cao was done in as much by his own side as by the electoral math.

Last fall, Cao was the lone Republican to vote for the House's health care reform bill, and only after it included the Stupak amendment specifically barring taxpayer funding of abortion. He came under intense pressure from the GOP leadership for that defection, and when the Senate -- and final -- version of the bill came back, Cao voted against it, saying its language on abortion funding was not sufficiently strong.

Cao then earned the scorn of conservatives when he co-sponsored both the Hate Crimes Protection Act of 2009 and legislation to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians serving openly.

While the party still said it backed him, the Family Research Council, the conservative Christian lobby with closely allied with the GOP, ran a last-minute radio ad that blasted Cao.

"Who is Rep. Joseph Cao representing in Washington?" the FRC ad asked. "Cao has repeatedly voted for extra protections for homosexuals at the cost of religious liberty. Cao voted to use the military to advance the radical social agendas of homosexual activists and he voted for a so-called hate crimes bill that places your personal liberties at jeopardy."

Cao's "record is dismal on our issues," Tony Perkins, the former Louisiana legislator who heads the Washington-based FRC, told the Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

Cao told the newspaper that the charges were "ridiculous."

"I believe it is a human rights violation to impose government-sanctioned penalties on a group of people just because of their sexual orientation, just as it would be a human rights violation to impose penalties on a group because of its religious affiliation or race," Cao said. "I will continue to fight for the protection of human rights for all people."

Whether the FRC ad played a role in Cao's defeat is unclear, especially given the margin of his loss.

But Cao seemed ready to leave office much as he entered, with the kind of equanimity that was both part of his nature and a necessity given the precarious political position in which he found himself.

"I see my role as a representative of this district as a gift from God and as a gift from the people," he told CNN during the campaign. "And once my job is over and done with, I'm very happy to go back to being a dad, a college professor."
Outbrain - The Most Trusted Content Discovery Platform

Get Your Content Discovered.

Promote your content on premium websites

Learn More ›

Outbrain Amplify:
Get your content discovered

Your content will be promoted on the web's largest and most respected media properties, including CNN.com, Slate and ESPN. We make sure it's seen precisely when people will find it most interesting.

Learn More

Outbrain Engage: The solution for a modern publisher

Outbrain Engage is a full stack software solution that empowers an entire media organization to more effectively manage its online content and programming experience.

Learn More

The world's largest content discovery platform

We bring together premium publishers and marketers of all sizes (including many of the world's leading brands) into the world's largest and most vibrant content marketplace. Learn more about Outbrain ›

561 Million

The global audience reached by Outbrain each month*

190 Billion

The total recommendations we serve consumers monthly

80%

Of the world’s leading brands use Outbrain

* Audience reach according to comScore, September 2014. Leading brands via Ad Age DataCenter / Kantar Media, 2014.

Andy Blau
We selected Outbrain not only because the revenues were higher than others, but because its engine drives better recommendations than others.
Andy Blau
Senior Vice President, Group General Manager
Time Inc.
Dan Horowitz
It's less about buying traffic than it is about reaching the right people with relevant headlines to get them to your content.
Dan Horowitz
EVP and Senior Partner
Fleishman-Hillard Digital
Katrina Craigwell
Our goal is always to deliver content that adds value to the conversations being held by the end user. Outbrain allows us to do just that.
Katrina Craigwell
Global Manager of Digital Marketing
GE
Bailey Foote
The fact that we’re able to drive these kinds of transactions with consumers at scale and with increasing efficiency has made Outbrain paramount to our marketing strategy.
Bailey Foote
E-commerce Manager
The Line
Neal Moore
You cannot leave it to chance that someone will find and engage with your content. Outbrain can put your content in the midst of the world’s most prestigious publications.
Neal Moore
CEO
Click2View
Zach Zavos
Having links to our content appearing directly on premium publisher sites helped us establish our brand.
Zach Zavos
Co-Founder
Conversant Media
Mike Brito
Outbrain is one of those [critical] components helping us deliver the right messages to the right contingent at massive scale and in real time to counter a crisis.
Mike Brito
Group Director
WCG

A global footprint of service

We operate offices in 11 global territories and we partner with publishers and marketers in over 55 countries, including the U.S., UK, France, Brazil, India and Japan. Come join us ›

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.

2 Comments

Filter by:
nblueb18

What kind of campaign did the other guy run? He must have been more in tune with the voters.

November 03 2010 at 12:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Judah

Seeing Cao go is probably the last sign of the fall of integrity in the Republican party. If he was a naturally born citizen I would have considered him an excellent presidential candidate. I hope he finds his way back into politics sometime in the future. His loss is a loss to all American people.

November 03 2010 at 10:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Follow Politics Daily

  • Comics
robert-and-donna-trussell
CHAOS THEORY
Featuring political comics by Robert and Donna TrussellMore>>
  • Woman UP Video
politics daily videos
Weekly Videos
Woman Up, Politics Daily's Online Sunday ShowMore»
politics daily videos
TV Appearances
Showcasing appearances by Politics Daily staff and contributors.More>>