When Cold Cash is trash

Like Governor Bobby Jindal, Anh “Joseph” Cao is something of a dream Republican candidate. Calling Cao’s “one of the most intersting personal stories around,” Maggie Lineback reported on November 4:

He and his family fled their native Vietnam to make a home here in the U.S. He graduated from college, became a Jesuit and was training for the priesthood. He’s fluent in four languages and has a law degree. How does one go from candidate for Jesuit priest to Republican candidate for Congress? Cao recalls when he was having a crisis of faith and turned to another Jesuit for advice. Cao’s question was a common one, “How can God allow bad things to happen?” The other man’s response was that God sends good people to help. Cao now feels that his mission is to improve the world in this way- through politics.

When I read that Cao would be facing off against the disgraceful nine-term Democratic incumbent William “Cold Cash” Jefferson in Louisiana’s Second District, I thought “If only.” But in his first run for office, Cao has already made a dent in his mission to improve the world through politics by forcing the retirement of Rep. Jefferson from office. Cao has put Jefferson out to pasture, narrowly defeating him 50-47 percent. In the process Cao has become the first Vietnamese American to be elected to Congress. Andrew Malcolm terms the outcome “a stunning upset.”

The Times-Picayne story on the result notes that the Second District “was specifically drawn to give African-Americans an electoral advantage and one in which two of every three voters are registered Democrats.” According to the Times-Picayne, low turnout appears to account in part for the outcome. The Times-Picayune, incidentally, endorsed Cao over Jefferson.

JOHN adds: One striking feature of the Cao-Jefferson race was the solid support that the Democratic Party and its labor unions gave Jefferson, notwithstanding his undoubted corruption. The Washington Times noted:

Despite his looming trial on federal bribery charges, Louisiana Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson hasn’t had any trouble raising money from his allies in Congress.

Since his June 2007 indictment, Mr. Jefferson has raised more than a quarter-million dollars in political donations to retain the House seat he’s held since 1990.

The money includes tens of thousands of dollars from political action committees controlled by other members of Congress. He’s also gotten help from labor union PACs. …

He has received at least $14,000 from Secure PAC, the leadership committee headed by Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson. Mr. Thompson also gave $2,300 through his separate re-election campaign fund.

The Bridge PAC, South Carolina Democratic Rep. James E. Clyburn’s leadership committee, gave Mr. Jefferson a pair of contributions in recent weeks totaling $10,000, according to FEC records. Others prominent donors, all Democrats, sending campaign cash to Mr. Jefferson in recent months include Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, who gave $5,000; Rep. Diane Watson of California, $1,000; New Jersey Rep. Donald M. Payne, $2,000; and Florida Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, $2,000.

He also received $10,000 each from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. The political arm of the Communication Workers of America has given Mr. Jefferson $5,000. …

Mr. Jefferson’s fundraising success contrasts with how politicians reacted after the indictment of Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in August.

Paul addressed the contrast between Democratic and Republican attitudes toward corruption and other forms of dishonesty in a still-timely 2002 essay, “The Cheating Heart of the Democratic Party.”

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