Republican Joseph Cao's Unlikely Journey From Seminary to Congress

A Vietnamese immigrant who left a Jesuit seminary for politics eked out surprise victory in Louisiana.

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Instead, Cao won.

The question now, say those watching, is how Cao, who initially opposed the Iraq war, favors access to healthcare for all, and is a Vietnamese refugee among immigration hard-liners, will balance his own values with those of the Republican Party. When asked which GOP tenets he supports, Cao emphasizes one—opposition to abortion—above all others.

"It's hard to categorize him as a Republican or Democrat," says Cheron Brylski, who handled his campaign for state representative. "In his heart, Ahn is a Jesuit."

For Cao, however, strategizing how to fit into the GOP—or, for that matter, how to be re-elected in a Democratic district—is not at the top of the agenda. Instead, he says his main goal is bringing economic development home. "My focus is on getting things done," he says. "Whether I get elected in two years, at this point right now, is not my main concern."

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