The future was Cao

THE FUTURE WAS CAO…. In December 2008. Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) published a memo. The subject line read, “The Future is Cao,” and it argued, “As House Republicans look ahead to the next two years, the Cao victory is a symbol of what can be achieved when we think big, present a positive alternative, and work aggressively to earn the trust of the American people.”

The message was a little disingenuous. Rep. Joseph Cao (R) won in a very Democratic New Orleans congressional district because his opponent was a felon, not because he was a great candidate.

In any case, Cao, in his first term, has been about as moderate as a House Republican can be these days, including voting for health care reform when it initially came to the floor in November. (He stuck with his party last month on final passage.)

Cao is now helping host the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in his home town, and Dave Weigel was there when the freshman lawmaker ran into Kim Hasney, a local voter who said she can’t vote for him again. She explained to Weigel why. (via Alex Seitz-Wald)

“He had fundraisers, he had meetings, all in the suburbs — the white suburbs,” said Hasney, who attended one of those events. “He had nothing in the district. We got him elected. Then, he goes and says ‘but I have to represent my district,’ which is all liberal, giveaway, spread-the-wealth, welfare, black. We thought he would try to change the demographics of that district by supporting things that were not giveaway things. You know, supporting things that would get them out of the ghetto.”

Hasney made it clear that she opposed Cao’s votes because she thought they were the wrong way to lift poor blacks in New Orleans out of poverty. “I’m not just talking about black people,” she said. “The Vietnamese people flourish in that area because they’re workers.”

Cao, she said, should have focused on free market solutions that could help other residents lift themselves up by their bootstraps.

“I thought that was what he was going to do,” she said. “As a conservative Republican, bring a work ethic, bring a non-welfare ethic.”

Here’s a helpful tip for conservatives. When you’re talking to a reporter, and you’re complaining that your representative received campaign contributions in the “white suburbs,” but is now focused on his “liberal, giveaway, spread-the-wealth, welfare, black” constituents, it doesn’t help when you add, “I’m not just talking about black people.”