Friday, November 07, 2008

What To Do About LA Congressional District 2

A while back on my blog, when I posted my election recommendations, I hinted at a surprise, party-discipline-breaking pick by The Huck Upchuck for Congressional District 2 -- even if Helena Moreno might have won.

I thought I was going to be pushing the envelope among the progressive NOLA Blogosphere in revealing my choice, but Oyster beat me to the punch! Dang! The early bird catches the worm!

Oyster came out and endorsed GOP candidate Anh "Joseph" Cao. He pointed to Cao's impressive biography as part of the reason to like him. And that's true. I agree with Oyster on this point. But, even still, that's not reason enough for me. I generally take these campaign website biographies with a grain of salt because they always put the best face forward, embellished for effect, on these things. And so, while I was impressed, I was also not fully convinced. Until I had the chance to test Cao directly. Let me elaborate ...

Recently, I was part of organizing a Candidate forum for Congressional District 2. This forum took place on Tuesday, October 28. The focus was on issues of importance to the Latino community. I moderated this forum on behalf of the collaborating organizations who put the event together: Tulane University's Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Puentes New Orleans, and the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations. Four of the six candidates showed up: Helena Moreno, one of the two remaining Democrats in the race; Anh "Joseph" Cao, the Republican candidate; Jerry Jacobs, an independent; and Gregory Kahn, the Libertarian candidate. William Jefferson, the current incumbent Democratic candidate, did not participate. He simply ignored our repeated invitations. And Malik Rahim, the Green Party candidate, was fighting off an illness.

There's a lot to say about this event; but I won't say too much. The only point I want to make here is that Joseph Cao did exceedingly well as far as I was concerned. The questions posed to the candidates at the forum dealt with immigration reform, language access, health care, housing, and education. As an immigrant himself for whom English was, and is, a second language, Joseph Cao's answers to just about all of the questions posed were extremely progressive -- I thought even more progressive than Helena Moreno's answers. Cao supports comprehensive immigration reform and he does not think a security first policy is appropriate as a rational and feasible and even humane approach to the issue; he supports the DREAM act that would allow undocumented children of immigrants the rights to temporary (and perhaps permanent) legal status; he supports legislative initiatives that would provide access to information and documents in the native languages of non-english speaking peoples; as a lawyer himself, he has an impressive knowledge of federal immigration and citizenship laws; he supports bi-lingual education and was personally instrumental in establishing a language immersion public charter school in New Orleans east in the Vietnamese and Spanish languages; and he projected a commitment to the principles of social justice in ways that one would simply not expect of a Republican. Of course, Cao holds positions that I disagree with, but he was certainly not dogmatic and ideologically rigid in his demeanor and in his stances. He, frankly, struck me as sincere, honest, and very open to many different viewpoints. At a very fundamental level of character and temperament, he came across to me as the conservative version of Barack Obama.

Because I look very closely at candidate positions that affect the Latino and other immigrant communities, Cao's positions impressed me. And his partisan identification just doesn't worry me. I think he will be a fair and good representative of the diversity of New Orleans, I think he will be honest and responsible with the public trust, and I just don't think he will let the lure of the power of politics change what I think is his fundamental humility as a public servant.

So, hold your hats, folks, given the choices we have before us this election cycle, The Huck Upchuck is breaking with party discipline and is not only endorsing the Republican Party candidate,

Anh "Joseph" Cao,

for Congress, but is doing so unreservedly and enthusiastically.

[UPDATE: Apparently something is wrong with Cao's website. Hopefully that will be fixed soon. But the "url" in the links above was correct.]

[UPDATE 2: I just spoke with Mr. Cao and he informed me that he has a new website - I've updated the links above accordingly.]

[UPDATE 3: It goes without saying that my endorsement is strictly my own personal endorsement. It does not reflect the preferences of any other individual associated with the October 28 Candidate Forum, nor does it reflect any official endorsement by any of the organizations that co-sponsored the Candidate Forum.]

1 comment:

Schroeder said...

No comments to this post. I'd think you might generate either cantankerous Republicans who feel vindicated, or partisan Democrats who want the extra seat. I still don't think the man can pull the numbers he needs as a Republican. Too bad he isn't an independent or a Democrat. Nevertheless, with yours, and Oyster's, endorsements, I have more to learn about this man. I do have to say, however, that it's long overdue that this town had a Vietnamese-American representin'. They are an incredible asset to this community.