Joseph Cao

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Joseph Cao
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Candidate for
Attorney General of Louisiana
Prior offices
U.S. House of Repreventatives
2009 - 2011
Bachelor'sBaylor University
Master'sFordham University
Place of birthVietnam
Anh "Joseph" Quang Cao was a Republican candidate for Louisiana Attorney General in the 2011 Louisiana statewide elections. Cao is a former U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 2nd congressional district from 2009-2011. He was slotted to face incumbent Buddy Caldwell, but withdrew from the race on September 20, 2011.[1]


Cao is a native of Vietnam, the son of an officer in the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese Army. After the fall of Saigon to communist North Vietnam in 1975, Cao's father was imprisoned and his mother was left to raise the couple's seven children. Cao and two of his siblings fled the country for the U.S. He ultimately earned a B.S. in Physics from Baylor University, and an M.A. in Philosophy from Fordham University in 1995. For several years after he graduated from college, he was also a member of the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order.

Cao taught philosophy and ethics at Loyola University in New Orleans for a year after earning his master's, then worked a year as a parochial school teacher in Virginia. Cao studied law at the Loyola School of Law from 1997 to 2000; after earning his J.D., he became an associate at the Waltzer Law Firm. After leaving Waltzer, he worked as in-house counsel for Boat People SOS, an organization "seeking to aid the social and cultural assimilation for poor immigrants." He opened a private practice, which he continues to operate, in 2002. Cao has also served on the Board of Elections for Orleans Parish, the Republican Parish Executive Committee and the Louisiana State Republican Executive Committee.

He was elected as a U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 2nd congressional district in 2008, becoming the first Vietnamese-American ever elected to Congress and the first Republican to represent his district since 1891. He served one term, losing to Democratic State Rep. Cedric Richmond.

State Executive elections

MississippiWest Virginia

GubernatorialLt. Governor
Attorney GeneralSecretary of State
Down ballot offices: (KY, LA, MS)



Cao's campaign website touts his "strong principles" and leadership experience but offers little on specific issues. He has, however, a significant record of policy statements from his service in the U.S. House from 2008 to 2010.

Cao received significant press in late 2009 for being the only Republican legislator to support President Barack Obama's health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), during an initial vote. He ultimately did not support the final version of the bill because it did not include an amendment to prohibit federal funding for abortion services. Cao subsequently faced harsh criticism from conservative commentators for supporting the essential features of the Obama bill, including the individual mandate to purchase health care insurance and new subsidies. He explained his vote as an expression of the views of his constituents, whom he was obliged to represent.[2]

Some of Cao's views from this period, according to, include:

  • Opposing federal funding for abortion
  • Opposing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the "stimulus bill"), though he voted in favor of a separate $192 billion stimulus bill in July of that year.
  • Supporting laws classifying crimes motivated by anti-gay malice as hate crimes.
  • Supporting federal grants to states to renovate and "green" public schools.
  • Opposing limits on carbon dioxide emissions
  • Supporting the federal "cash for clunkers" program that subsidized new vehicle purchases.



See also: Louisiana attorney general election, 2011

Cao announced in April 2011 that he would run for Attorney General of Louisiana, setting up a challenge with one-term Republican incumbent Buddy Caldwell in the October 22 primary. He announced he was pulling out of the race on September 19, 2011 after his campaign struggled to build financial momentum. Cao was also dogged by persistent questions regarding his conservative credentials following his initial support as a congressman for Democratic President Barack Obama's 2009 health care reform bill.


Cao lost his 2010 run for re-election as U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 2nd district, falling to Democrat Cedric Richmond in the general election.

Louisiana, 2nd Congressional District -- 2010 General Election
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Cedric Richmond 64.59
     Republican Party Joseph Cao 33.47
Total Votes 129,604


Cao first won election as U.S. representative for Louisiana's 2nd district in 2008, when he narrowly defeated Democrat William J. Jefferson.

Louisiana, 2nd Congressional District -- 2010 General Election
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party William J. Jefferson 46.83
     Republican Party Approveda Joseph Cao 49.54
Total Votes 66,882

See also

External links