"Democrats for Cao"

Yesterday, I was driving along Orleans Avenue here in New Orleans, and I saw a number of "Democrats for Cao" signs in the neutral ground.

That's interesting, I thought.  Oftentimes, I've seen the reverse here in town: an attempt by certain parties to paint Democratic or clearly liberal candidates as "Endorsed by Republicans" - literally putting unauthorized stickers on existing political signs to that effect - to drag down an opposition candidate in heavily African American wards.

I know a good number of Democrats crossed over in 2008 to vote for Congressman Joseph Cao instead of "Dollar Bill" Jefferson.  I also know quite a few Democrats who intend to vote for Cao this time around.  But it still amazed me that Democratic public officials would openly stand up and back the unlikely Republican Congressman.

Cao's record, admittedly, is quite liberal.  And his open and almost disturbing statements of "love" for Obama has been no secret.  But he also seems to be largely free from the taint of corruption that all too often dominates political races here.  One local City Council Member, Stacy Head, put it very well at the press conference held by Democrats for Cao:

"It's a little Hamiltonian, but I want a statesman and an honorable man to represent me even if I don't always like his decisions."

In a year of Tea Party sentiments and Republican encroachment on Democratic strongholds, it's interesting to see this alternate narrative playing out that may lead to a Republican win in a Democratic district: a simple preference for the more upright individual, regardless of party, regardless of the weight and inertia of machine politics.

In my opinion, Cao does seem far less prone to the temptations of power and influence than his competitor (who lost his law license).  And of the two candidates, I will likely support Cao, although his failure to exhibit any sense of fiscal responsibility or concern about the size of government at the national level infuriates me, as does his complete disregard for the many New Orleans citizens negatively impacted by the unnecessary land grab in the Lower Mid-City hospitals push.  Unfortunately, there are no other candidates that provide options - his Democratic opponent would be no better on any of those issues.