Over the Halloween weekend before the Nov. 2 election, partisans emerged with some tricky rationalizations for voting for either incumbent Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao or challenger Cedric Richmond. Cheron Brylski, a paid political consultant to the Cao campaign, sent out an email blast to local reporters and Democrats pointing out, "All pundits agree that the U.S. House is lost to Republicans. Therefore in NOLA, it makes sense to keep Representative Joe Cao, who will have seniority and access to new House leadership to continue our recovery. ...Therefore, if you are like me, a Democrat, it is important this time to vote for the Republican."
Why Democratic voters would want to contribute to the GOP sweep of the House was left unspecified.
Meanwhile, the Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC), which had endorsed Cao in 2008, went after him with an ad that aired locally on WRNO-FM ("Rush Radio"). Cao's sin in the eyes of the FRC? Despite a spotless pro-life voting record, the former Jesuit seminarian hadn't managed to be gay-unfriendly enough for the FRC's tastes. "Cao voted to use the military to advance the radical social agendas of homosexual activists and he voted for a so-called hate crimes bill that places your personal liberties at jeopardy," the ad said. "Stop Joseph Cao on election day!"
The rationale perplexed even fellow Republicans, including Sarah Roy, president of the Greater New Orleans Republicans, who said in a statement, "Tony Perkins and his organization's de facto endorsement of Cedric Richmond is one of the strangest political gambits in a state known for bizarre politics."
In the end, none of it mattered. Richmond beat Cao 65 percent to 33 percent. — Kevin Allman