News & Election Videos

December 08, 2008

Meet Congressman-elect Anh Cao

The New York Times’ Adam Nossiter has a great profile of another community organizer-turned politician, Representative-elect Anh "Joseph" Cao, who accomplished the unthinkable by knocking off indicted  New Orleans Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.).

“Mr. Cao was being approached by voters on the street Sunday with the bewildered awe reserved for one who has returned from the wars. They asked for his autograph, beamed at him and yelled words of encouragement.

The astonishment was palpable, and it had two sources: first, that the nine-term Mr. Jefferson had been beaten at all, and second, that Mr. Cao, 41, had been the man to do it, winning with 50 percent of the vote on Saturday to 47 percent for Mr. Jefferson. (The election had been delayed because of Hurricane Gustav.)

Mr. Cao was a refugee from Vietnam at age 8, a former Jesuit seminarian, a philosophy student with a penchant for Camus and Dostoyevsky, an unknown activist lawyer for one of the least visible immigrant communities here and a Republican in a heavily Democratic district.

Few in New Orleans were betting on him in the days before the election. Now, Joseph Cao, as he is known here (his last name is pronounced “gow”), has become the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress.”…

He is only a recent convert to the Republican Party, having been a registered independent for most of his adult life, and has no position — at least not one he cares to share yet — on President-elect Barack Obama’s agenda. His politics seem less a matter of ideology than of low-key temperament and a Jesuit-inspired desire to “help and serve people,” as he put it.