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By Richard Rainey, published in NOLA.com
December 16, 2015

Anh “Joseph” Cao, a New Orleans attorney and the first Vietnamese American to serve in Congress, plans to join the race to succeed Sen. David Vitter.

In a private holiday greeting emailed to family, friends and supporters — and obtained by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune — Cao laid out an optimistic take on his chances to best a crowded field in the Nov. 8 primary.

“Sen. Vitter will not be running for re-election, so this is a great opportunity to have a Vietnamese-American/Asian-American voice in the U.S. Senate,” Cao wrote.

Cao, a Republican, did not respond to messages left Tuesday (Dec. 15) seeking comment.

In his email, Cao said a growing GOP field would work to his advantage, although he doesn’t explain why. Reps. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and John Fleming, R-Minden, have announced bids for Vitter’s seat, as has retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness. Treasurer John Kennedy and public service commissioner Scott Angelle are also considering runs.

But it is New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, whose decision not to run appeared to most invigorate Cao.

“This will work to my advantage as the votes in New Orleans, the district that I represented, will gravitate towards me, as well as the votes of independents, center-right Republicans and center-left Democrats,” Cao wrote. “In a race this big and this important, it will boil down to money, and I ask that you all help me raise the money that I need to win this race.”

Cao estimated he needs $2 million to make it to the primary.

Cao holds a remarkable position in New Orleans history: In 2008, he ousted U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, a powerful, entrenched New Orleans Democrat considerably weakened by a corruption investigation that ultimately led to a 13-year federal prison sentence. Cao held that 2nd District seat in Congress for one term before Democrat Cedric Richmond handily beat him in 2010.

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