Anh “Joseph” Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress, now faces a recall in his Louisiana district.
Cao, a Republican, defeated disgraced Congressman William Jefferson last year. Most observers believe Cao is going to be a one-term Congressman because of the district’s political demographics.
The district is heavily Democratic and African-American. Cao’s election last year was a major surprise, but few House Democrats appear to miss the scandal-plagued Jefferson.
The recall is backed by the Louisiana Ministerial Alliance of Churches for All People. Three ministers, Aubry Wallace, Kendra William and Toris Young, have taken the lead in the effort.
A recall in Louisiana is a formidable task. It requires one-third of the registered voters or 101,000 signatures over 180 days. Wallace and Young say they have already gathered 8,000.
There is one other complication to their recall efforts. The U.S. Constitution does not allow for the recall of a member of Congress, and no Congressman has ever been recalled. Expulsion by Congress is the only process defined by the Constitution. Even if Cao is recalled, it is unlikely that Congress would accept the results. Even if Congress did, it is unlikely the recall could survive a legal challenge.
The Louisiana Secretary of State’s office has a different take on the matter. “Because we elected them, we can recall them,” said a spokesman with the department.
Cao was one of the few Republican Congressman who considered voting for the stimulus package, but he was reigned in by party leadership at the last who wanted 100% opposition to the bill. The Republicans Deputy Whip, Kevin McCarthy, stood next to Cao during the vote.
Initial reports stated the stimulus vote was the reason for the recall. However, Young said the stimulus vote was only the “last straw,” and the recall had been planned for weeks.
Cao has been in office for six weeks.
It sounds like Cao’s opponents had their mind made up from day one. Jefferson served the district for 18 years, dogged by rumors of corruption for much of that time. No one sought to recall him, even after he was indicted.
Wallace said he supported Jefferson in the last election. On the other hand, Young said he was an “instrumental” supporter of Cao. Bryan Wagner, who managed Cao’s campaign, said of Young, “I’ve never heard of him.”