So who is Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), the one Republican who voted yes on the House Democrats’ health care bill?
Cao was first elected to Congress in 2008 from the solidly-Democratic New Orleans district, winning a shocking victory against Democratic Rep. William Jefferson, who was then under indictment (and was later convicted) on corruption charges. Over the course of his life, he was a child refugee from Vietnam, a former Jesuit seminarian, and an attorney.
Cao’s district voted 75%-23% for Barack Obama in 2008, but Cao was able to beat Jefferson in a December election (held at that time because of the rescheduling of some Louisiana Congressional elections, due to a hurricane). Cao had held out on voting for this bill — he is strongly pro-life and wanted full assurances that abortion would not be funded — but his vote for final passage, after the passage of the Stupak Amendment, could give him a positive card to play with his Democratic constituents.
Ironically, right after Cao was elected, the House GOP boasted of his upset win as a sign of the GOP’s comeback, and that he presented a path to future victories. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) declared: “The Future Is Cao.”