If you were surprised when the first-ever Vietnamese American was elected to Congress a few days ago, you’re not alone.
Many Vietnamese immigrants across the U.S. were also unaware of Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao until his victory this Saturday in a special election in New Orleans. Cao defeated the tainted nine-term Democratic incumbent, William Jefferson, an African American from an overwhelmingly black congressional district.
Not even his fellow Republicans knew that much about Cao, an immigration lawyer from East New Orleans. According to The Washington Post, D.C. party aides had to look up his ads on YouTube to learn how to pronounce his last name. [Here’s one of the ads; the pronunciation is close to “gow.”]
Unknown or not, Cao’s victory seems to have earned him the right to carry the hopes and expectations of both Vietnamese-Americans and Republicans on his shoulders.