By Kevin McGill
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Another Republican is joining the U.S. Senate race in Louisiana.
Former U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao announced his candidacy March 1 in a news release.
Cao became the nation’s first Vietnamese American congressman with his unexpected defeated of a scandal-plagued incumbent Democrat, William Jefferson, in 2008. Two years later, he lost the New Orleans-based seat to another Democrat, Cedric Richmond.
Four other Republicans have announced plans to compete for the seat on the November ballot: U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, U.S. Rep. John Fleming, state Treasurer John Kennedy, and retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness.
A Democrat, New Orleans lawyer Caroline Fayard, announced her candidacy a month ago. Another Democrat, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, has not made a formal announcement but has begun telling news outlets that he will be a candidate.
The seat is being vacated by David Vitter, who announced he would not seek re-election after losing last year’s governor’s race.
Cao, a soft-spoken attorney, first became known in the New Orleans area as an activist in the Vietnamese community of eastern New Orleans as the area struggled to recover after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In a hurricane-delayed election in 2008, he defeated Jefferson, who would later go to prison for corruption.
Cao’s defeat of the once-powerful Jefferson in a strongly Democratic district made him a rising star in the GOP.
So did his compelling life story: As a child, he fled Vietnam with family members ahead of the fall of Saigon.
He broke with the party at times to vote with President Barack Obama. But his votes against the 2009 economic stimulus bill and his eventual vote against Obama’s health care legislation didn’t play well in the district. Richmond, then a state legislator, defeated him in 2010 to return the seat to the Democrats.
Cao’s news release said he is running “because he believes Louisiana deserves a Senator who puts delivering for Louisiana ahead of party politics or political gain.” (end)