Brief of the Week December 15

HOLY CAO! One week after Republican political newcomer Anh “Joseph” Cao unseated nine-term Rep. William Jefferson (D.-La.) in a district that is two-thirds Democratic and 62% African-American, pundits and pols are still talking about what could arguably be called the upset of the year. Although it is now well-known that 41-year-old Cao (pronounced “Cow”) is the first Vietnamese-American congressman and the first Republican to represent a black-majority House district since 1932, it is far less-known that the New Orleans attorney is a stalwart conservative. In an interview with HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi hours after he was declared the winner by about 2,000 votes, Cao emphasized that he campaigned hard on an anti-tax theme as well as Jefferson’s indictment for corruption charges. “Integrity and taxes were basically it,” Cao told Gizzi, “I said I would try to cut taxes — the personal income tax, capital gains and estate taxes.” The congressman-elect went on to say that he opposed greater federal involvement in health care (“I differ strongly with President-elect Obama on this”) and described himself as “strongly pro-life.” Voter turnout in the New Orleans-based district was about 17% and, in many of the precincts Jefferson had counted on most, the turnout dropped to 5%. In his final days as chairman of the cash-strapped National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) pumped in $50,000 to Cao (who had funded his campaign primarily with loans totaling about $70,000).


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