GOP picks up Dem seat in Congress (updated)

Anh Joseph Cao has become the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress, defeating indicted incumbent William Jefferson, whose freezer was found to contain $90,000 in cold cash, and who awaits trial.

Cain Burdeau of AP reports that turnout was twice as heavy in white areas as in black areas. Richard Baehr suggests that Democrats, including many blacks, may have been overconfident, as the Democrats usually win 75-80% of the vote in the district. He thanks hurricane Gustav for this one - it delayed party primaries till Nov. 4th, and election to December. Jefferson would have won easily on November 4th.

Ed Lasky notes: What was all that about xenophobia and racism of Southerners? He adds:

What the result may suggest is that Obama's success has lifted the standards which African-Americans use to judge other African-American candidates. They are refusing to send politicians to Washington just because they are AA. Adam Clayton Powell kept getting re-elected despite corruption; as did some other black politicians with scandal ties.

Thomas Lifson notes that after the huge turnout effort on November 4th, there may have been a kind of fatigue among some Democrats, plus the assumption of a safe seat, as Richard notes.

The Los Angeles Times today covers the rise of Vietnamese-Americansin Orange County, California, where the City of Westminster now has a Vietnamese majority on its city council:

The political muscle of Vietnamese Americans has been building for years. They vote with gusto, are increasingly running for office and, in a county with a reputation for political conservatism, have been faithfully Republican.

"It wasn't that long ago that . . . members of the Vietnamese community were coming to the United States in dire straits after the fall of Saigon," said John J. Pitney Jr., a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College. "When it comes to the political rise of ethnic groups, [Vietnamese Americans] have actually risen very rapidly."

Once marginalized, Vietnamese American voters are now wooed by Orange County's white and Latino politicians alike, many of whom translate their campaign mailers and posters into Vietnamese and make a point to pose with the yellow and red striped flag of the fallen country of South Vietnam.

Today is a landmark in the assimilation of a vibrant and talented minority into the American mainstream. And it may potentially mark the beginning of the rise of the GOP from the depths to which November 4th consigned it.


Elizabeth Weber Levy points us to this article from WWL television, with some interesting observations:

WWL-TV Political Analyst Clancy DuBos agreed with Jefferson's assessment that he would have more likely succeeded had he been running against Cao on a ballot during the presidential race that featured Barack Obama, but he also said he thought that Jefferson's legal troubles may have finally caught up with him.

"I think there was a large number of people in the community who were tired of holding their noses and voting for Mr. Jefferson," he said.

Greg Rigamer, a political consultant for WWL-TV, said his analysis showed turnout in predominantly white sections of the district was double that in black areas. He said that helped push Cao to victory over Jefferson, who became Louisiana's first black congressman since Reconstruction when he took office in 1991.

"This is quite a feat," Rigamer said of Cao's victory.

DuBos said the loss was also a potential legal loss in that it took "the bargaining chip" of resignation off the table if Jefferson chose to try to negotiate a plea.

Elizabeth adds:

Overall, that puts Louisiana in a stunning position with one Democrat Senator, Mary Landrieu, and one Democrat Representative, Charlie Melancon.   The rest are Republicans.  How long Cao (pronounced "gow," as in "cow") will be able to keep the 2nd District seat remains to be seen, but the next two years should prove interesting, indeed.  Cao is an amazing fella.

More importantly, what does it say about the GOP and Louisiana now that we have Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal and U.S. Rep.-elect Anh "Joseph" Cao, both of whom are brilliant, non-Caucasian and, just to make it interesting, Roman Catholic?