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Louisiana voters reject Rep. Jefferson

December 07, 2008|Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Voters in Louisiana ousted indicted Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson on Saturday, electing instead a Republican attorney who will be the first Vietnamese American in Congress.

Unofficial results showed Anh "Joseph" Cao denying Jefferson a 10th term. Republicans made an aggressive push to take the seat from Jefferson, 61, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, money laundering and misusing his congressional office.

Cao, 41, won Louisiana's majority-black 2nd Congressional District, which covers much of New Orleans. Just 11% of registered voters in the district are Republicans. Turnout appeared to be light.

Voters reelected Jefferson in 2006 even after news of the bribery scandal broke. Late-night TV comics made him the butt of jokes after federal agents said they had found $90,000 in alleged bribe money hidden in his freezer.

Cao came to the United States as a child after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and went on to earn degrees in philosophy, physics and law.

The election was one of two in Louisiana postponed because of Hurricane Gustav. In the other, Republican physician John Fleming defeated Democratic Dist. Atty. Paul Carmouche, 48% to 47%, to replace retiring Rep. Jim McCrery, a Republican.

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