Monday, November 24, 2008

Joseph Cao

Received in LSI mailbox today is an article written by Richard Fausset of LA Times - "In New Orleans, Beyond Black and White Politics" - on a US congressional race this December 6 (A Saturday for that matter) where there is a Vietnamese-American running against a black incumbent.

This is the Lousiana's 2nd Congressional District where the majority is black voters (65% to 30% Whites). Representative William Jefferson has represented the district since 1991 but is now facing corruption charge when investigators found $90,000 cash in his freezer. He is the first black Democrat elected to Congress from Louisiana since Reconstruction. His challenger is Joseph Cao, 41, an immigrant lawyer and a former Jesuit seminarian. Cao is a Republican with limited political experience but with a high hope of transcending race between ethnic voters.

Joseph Cao came to the US when he was 8 years old and typical of all Vietnamese-Americans in New Orleans, a devout conservative Catholic. New Orleans and vicinities have about 18,000 Vietnamese-Americans. This rerepsents less than 2% of the population. Joseph Cao has never held any public offices but running for US congressional seat, it is never a criteria. He is a parishioner of the Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church. The same parish that Bisoph Mai thanh Luong, the only Vietnamese-American bishop, used to reside as a parish priest.

With limited funding and lack of an independent base, so what are his odds for sneaking in? Well it is depending on a number of factors:

1. Typical low turn out for a December election with historically about 20% of registered electorate.

2. Black's satisfaction with electing Obama and deciding to stay home for the race.

3. Republican high turn out and independents who could not stand the status quo corruption.

4. A strong turn out by White Catholic voters.

5. Arrogance of the incumbent for not taking Cao seriously.

6. And of course, miracle does happen to even politician. Don't ever underestimate the power of prayer and the Catholic Church in politics.

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