The Hayride

The Conservative Case For Joseph Cao

The Conservative Case For Joseph Cao
October 18
10:04 2010

Here at the Hayride we’ve been highly critical of Rep. Joseph Cao and some of his votes in Congress. We’ve also posted a bounty of sorts on RINO’s like Mike Castle and Lisa Murkowski.

So today, when we attempt to convince conservatives in the 2nd District to get out the vote to send Cao back to the House of Representatives, we’re bound to catch criticism from some quarters as hypocritical or “selling out.” We’ll address that, too.

On the surface, in the middle and at bottom this is not difficult stuff. Cao might not be much of a Republican, but he is a Republican. Cao’s opponent Cedric Richmond absolutely is not. If you’re a conservative, you’re probably a Republican and that would indicate you’re a Cao voter even though Cao is certainly no conservative.

But there is what looks like a small but potentially significant percentage of vote in the 2nd District which is leaning away from Cao. Not toward Richmond, but to independent 3rd-party candidate Anthony Marquize. Some members of the Greater New Orleans Tea Party are now pushing Marquize, in somewhat indelicate fashion at times. The gist of the attacks is Cao’s vote in favor of Obamacare the first time it went through the House – though he did vote against final passage.

Marquize is little-known and poorly financed. According to his last campaign finance report dated Sept. 30, he’s raised $7,700 and spent $5,600 in this race. He can’t win, because regardless of the quality of his message almost nobody in the district knows who he is – and with financials like that nobody in the district will know who he is by Election Day.

Cao’s record of attempting to placate the heavy Democrat vote in the 2nd District is deserving of some level of opprobrium among conservatives. There should be no problem with a debate on the Right about that tactic – one could argue that Cao’s 2008 election was a fluke in the first place, it could be taken for granted that he’s going to lose either this fall or as soon as the Democrats find a viable candidate to take him on and as such attempting to steer a narrow path to reelection by voting for leftist positions is a fool’s errand. Cao chose to attempt to represent his constituents, most of whom have disastrously stupid ideas about policy and the performance of President Obama, by hewing to their preferences as much as practicable. Either position you might favor can be supported in an argument.

But such an argument is best made in a party primary. If Cao had attracted a primary challenger, like Mr. Marquize for example, that would have been a healthy race and perhaps Mr. Marquize might have gotten some traction. If nothing else, Cao would have had to explain to the conservatives who turned out in force to help elect him in 2008 why he spends so much time cozying up to the President – which makes us break out in hives here at the Hayride regardless of the political efficacy of doing so.

In short, that would have been a worthy discussion. And Cao would have likely won it, seeing as though his fundraising prowess as a Republican who can get elected in a Democrat district would have buried an insurgent candidate in this cycle. But the point would have been made, and it would have been made without contributing to electing a candidate that conservatives and moderates alike despise.

And that’s the difference between supporting Cao and opposing Mike Castle. Castle lost a GOP primary, just as Cao may have lost one should Marquize have challenged him in that venue. There is a difference between losing on principle and slashing one’s own throat. And if you’re looking for a more practical difference between Cao and Castle, consider that Castle voted in favor of Cap and Trade and Cao opposed it. That difference alone means Cao has value to conservatives.

As things stand now, though, the small percentage of the vote that Marquize may get from disaffected conservatives (One percent? Three? Five?) could well be what Richmond needs to get elected. The Public Policy Polling survey last week which gave Richmond a 45-36 lead might be an outlier; the poll sample for that survey skewed more heavily favorable to Richmond than the electorate will be, and our estimation is that Richmond’s lead is probably closer to five percent. Whatever percentage of the vote which is contemplating pulling the lever for Marquize could be applied to narrow the gap and contribute to defeating the Democrat – if those voters are thinking practically.

Let’s remember that the opposition to Richmond isn’t just ideological. You could make the argument that a Cao who spends his time cuddling up to Obama and giving the President a friendly vote here and there renders him no different from a Democrat. But the one thing nobody has questioned about Cao is his integrity. He’s honest and he stays out of trouble. That can’t be said about Richmond, who lost his law license for a time after running for a New Orleans city council seat in a district he didn’t live in. Whose involvement in a non-profit scam looks like a classic execution of the Dollar Bill Jefferson family business. Whose association with unsavory characters, including a murderer, continues. And whose behavior in drinking establishments resulted in a police citation in 2007. It should be a priority of all voters unaligned with such a candidate on ideological grounds – and some who are so aligned – to prevent him from attaining congressional office.

Finally, Cao’s utility to the conservative cause in the next Congress will be satisfactory for the sole reason than a re-elected Cao would vote for John Boehner, rather than Nancy Pelosi, as the Speaker of the House. Once that vote is taken and Boehner wins thanks to a Republican majority Cao is part of, the kinds of left-wing legislation he angered conservatives by voting for will no longer be part of the landscape. He might be voting against good bills, but when no bad bills can reach the floor under a GOP majority Cao can’t do damage. And for that Boehner vote alone, Cao is the right choice for conservatives. Any other vote hands the Democrats a vote Nancy Pelosi can count on to remain as Speaker of the House.

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  1. jh
    jh October 18, 15:16

    The only issue I take with this OP Ed is that CAO actually wiull be different than Richmond on mnay of his votes

    Let us recall he is very very PRO-LIFE. and he talks the walk?. Does that mean something.

    He also is is huge on advocating against communists and other regimes. Does that not mean anything? He is against Cap and Trade and though while some people seems to get upset if says nice things about Obama (showing that perhaps people are taking politics too personal) he also told Richmond that liking a President also means the courage of telling him no.

    There are several more important conservative GOP Cao should get credit for that are not mentioned. Votes that are hard in themselves for this district.

    In other wrods there are reason to vote for Cao here besides him not being corrupt

    • MacAoidh
      MacAoidh October 18, 18:58

      There are lots of reasons why Cao is better than Richmond. But the number one reason is that a Cao victory makes a Boehner speakership that much more likely. If you control the Speakership, you control what kind of legislation gets to the floor of the House. Nothing is more important than that.

  2. Jerryodom
    Jerryodom October 18, 15:45

    Good article. It’s not like there’s a better choice available there.

  3. Ryan Booth
    Ryan Booth October 18, 19:11

    I’m very glad to see this piece. As I’ve said before, Joseph Cao is the single most valuable vote that conservatives have in Congress — not necessarily the most valuable congressman (that might be Paul Ryan or John Boehner or Mike Pence or someone else).

    There were three critical votes in the House in the last Congress: the stimulus, cap and trade, and the final vote on Obamacare. Cao cast a conservative vote all three times.

    The 2nd district is extraordinarily liberal. It’s over 60% black (and the President still has a 90% approval rating with black voters), and the white voters in the district are the most liberal in the state. The district voted for Obama by a 75% to 23% margin — a 52 point gap.

    To have a highly liberal district represented by a moderate is a huge win for the conservative movement.

    It’s the same way on the other side of the aisle. Mary Landrieu — even though she bucks her party on energy and other issues — is one of the most valuable senators for liberals, since she represents a conservative state.

  4. Skip
    Skip October 18, 19:25

    Cao is symptomatic of the problem we face.

    The speakership argument would be more compelling if it was likely to be close but it’s not. Given that, I don’t see that this is a bad opportunity to cast a vote on principle for Marquize. Cao just isn’t enough different from a Democrat to care. I’ll probably vote for him but I won’t feel good about it, and I certainly wouldn’t blame anyone who didn’t. And if we lose this ‘social justice “conservative”‘ to a corrupt democrat who is almost certainly going to be convicted of some corruption and be yet another black eye for the dems?

    I’ll cry me a river.

    There’s one thing he could do that would change almost every skeptics opinion of Cao. If he made a pledge to vote to defund Obamacare he’d have everyone back in the fold.


    • MacAoidh
      MacAoidh October 18, 19:33

      So in other words, you’d be less likely to vote to kill Cao if he’d opt for suicide. That makes GREAT sense.

      • Skip
        Skip October 20, 16:43

        At least it’s coherent which can’t be said of your suicide comment.

        I don’t care about Cao. He’s not a white hat, period. He’s a social justice progressive wannabe Washington GoP moderate. The kind the media loves. The kind that’s enabling the destruction of the nation, and has been for decades.

        When it comes down to it I don’t think he will vote to defund Obamacare much less repeal it. He’s what he is. He’s not a vote we can count on. So why expend a lot of effort in a race with a candidate who is little better than a democrat? That’s a question a lot are asking themselves.

        I’m going to vote for him so we can get our own slimeball Boehner in the speakership. Yay. But I’m not excited about it. Moreover being ‘tactical’ has got us to where we are. Because we’re too afraid to risk the big win, we’ve ‘tactically’ marginalized ourselves.

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