New Orleans lawmaker touts spending with an eye on November elections

NEW ORLEANS — As Republicans around the country rail against government spending, New Orleans Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao (R) wants voters to judge him on how much federal money he's directed to his district.

"This is one of the great cities of our country," he told The Ballot Box outside of the National World War II Museum, which is expanding in part thanks to a Congressional grant. "The city of New Orleans exemplifies the spirit of the American people, the resiliency of the American people, so it is quite pertinent that we use money to rebuild the city post-Katrina and post-oil spill."


Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to the House, holds one of the most Democratic districts in the country. With Republicans looking to recapture the majority in the House, party leaders are hoping his victory in 2008 wasn't a fluke. Ironically, what could help him keep his job — the millions of federal dollars he's helped bring to his district — is what Republicans are using as a campaign issue against Democrats in other competitive races.

Voters "will judge based on my record," the freshman Republican said, citing "the tremendous amount of money that we've brought down through the various entities — pushing money through FEMA and bringing money down through federal earmarks."

There are four Democrats vying to face Cao — Eugene Green, Gary Johnson and state Reps. Juan LaFonta and Cedric Richmond. Most observers believe Saturday's primary vote will end in a runoff, likely between Richmond and LaFonta.

Cao said he doesn't have a preference.

"It doesn't really matter to me" who wins, he said with a shrug. "The issues will be post-Katrina recovery, post-Katrina reconstruction and post-oil recovery. There's a lot of things that we still need to do."