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Clean Slate in Louisiana

It’s about time. In a specially-delayed election yesterday in Louisiana’s 2nd district, Anh Cao defeated incumbent U.S. Representative William Jefferson. Cao is a Republican, and Jefferson is a Democrat, but in this case, I’m glad that the Republican won.

The reason is simple. There’s strong evidence that Congressman Jefferson has been motivated more by corruption than the political interests of his constituents.

Though Jefferson is a Democrat, he has been a right wing Democrat for most of his term in office – during which time it appears that he was taking large amounts of money in bribes. There are 16 corruption-related criminal charges against Jefferson, who has been waiting trial for two years. Jefferson’s acceptance of money from powerful interests seems related to his votes in favor of right wing causes, as Jefferson’s votes have actually gotten more progressive over the last 2 years, since it’s become next to impossible for anyone to safely approach Jefferson with the offer of a bribe.

In criminal courts, a person is innocent until proved guilty, but in a public election, there’s a different standard of worthiness. It’s the responsibility of voters to make the best choice of candidate possible, given the information that’s available to them – and the information that’s been available to Democratic voters includes tens of thousands of dollars in cash hidden in Congressman Jefferson’s freezer.

I doubt I’ll have much appreciation for Anh Cao’s work in the House of Representatives, though he doesn’t appear to be as far to the right as many Republicans. Nonetheless, because of Cao’s victory, Democrats in the 2nd congressional district in Louisiana will have the opportunity to nominate an honest, progressive Democrat instead of voting for William Jefferson out of misplaced loyalty again. This opportunity is worth the sacrifice of having Congressman Cao.

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