Race-Obsessed Nossiter Emphasizes White Turnout in Corrupt Dem's Defeat

Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson of Louisiana was upset by Republican Anh Cao. But Adam Nossiter found no historic impact in the election of the first Vietnamese-American to Congress, only concern over the white turnout that led to the black incumbent's defeat.

Southern-based (and Southern-hostile reporter) Adam Nossiter didn't take well the shock defeat of corrupt black Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana by Vietnamese-American Republican Anh Cao in his typically race-obsessed Sunday report from New Orleans.Nossiteremphasized the turnout of whites in William "Cold Cash" Jefferson's defeat inthe congressional election delayed by Hurricane Gustav.Jefferson wasnotorious for his involvement in a bribery scandal (the FBI found $90,000 of cash inside frozen food containers in a freezer in Jefferson's home), but won reelection in 2006 and was not expected to lose to an unknown Republican this time around.

Representative William J. Jefferson was defeated by a little-known Republican lawyer here Saturday in a late-running Congressional election, underscoring the sharp demographic shifts in this city since Hurricane Katrina and handing Republicans an unexpected victory in a district that had been solidly Democratic.

The upset victory by the lawyer, Anh Cao, was thought by analysts to be the result of a strong turnout by white voters angered over federal corruption charges against Mr. Jefferson, a black Democrat who was counting on a loyal base to return him to Congress for a 10th term.


In heavily white precincts, turnout was about 26 percent, while it was only about 12 percent in the heavily black precincts, said Greg Rigamer, a New Orleans demographer and analyst.

The exact percentage of blacks here, like the population itself, is unknown after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, but is thought to be 55 percent to 60 percent, down from around 70 percent before the storm. The City Council has turned majority-white after years of being led by blacks.

"It's clearly shifted," Mr. Rigamer said of the population. "You have fewer African-Americans in the city than previously."

But Mr. Rigamer also suggested that the corruption charges against Mr. Jefferson pushed whites to the polls in unusual numbers. "The bottom line," he said, "is this is an issue-driven race that ignited turnout in the white community."

Nossiter doesn't mention Cao's inspiring life story until the second-to-last paragraph:

Mr. Cao, 41 and known as Joseph, fled Vietnam at age 8 after the fall of Saigon. His father was an army officer who was later imprisoned for seven years by the Communist government. Mr. Cao, who has never held elective office, has been an advocate for the small but prominent Vietnamese community here and has a master's degree in philosophy from Fordham University.

This wasn't the first time Nossiter has had a recalcitrant reaction to the news of a historic electoral win by a Republican minority in Louisiana. (Cao is the first Vietnamese-American congressman, a fact the normally race-obsessed Nossiter doesn't mention.)

When young Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American Catholic, was elected governor of Louisiana in October 2007, becoming the first Indian-American to hold stateside office in the U.S., Nossiter called the racial breakthrough "one with qualifiers attached" because Jindal, who critics (according to Nossiter) accused of "cold-bloodedness," did not win a majority of the state's blacks.