State Representative Cedric Richmond was joined by 200 supporters at the WWII museum on Magazine Street this evening to kick off his campaign against incumbent Anh "Joseph" Cao for Louisiana's second congressional seat. Cao's is widely viewed as a vulnerable Republican, and Richmond made it clear this evening that he intends to attack Cao's perceived weaknesses hard in the upcoming campaign.
"I feel much like the disappointed young fan confronting Shoeless Joe Jackson," said Richmond, referring to a scene from the 1988 movie Eight Men Out, in which a fan loses faith in an underhanded baseball player. "Say it ain't so, Joe."
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Cedric Richmond: Launching his campaign tonight.
"Please say you didn't vote for Wall Street and against Canal Street," said Richmond. "Say it ain't so, Joe. Please say you didn't vote against the health care bill. Say it ain't so, Joe. Please say you didn't vote against the stimulus package, and the jobs it would have bought our district and the money for our levies. Say it ain't so, Joe. And Joe, please say you didn't vote against equal pay for women. Say it ain't so, Joe."
Richmond aligned Cao with "Sarah Palin's Republican Party," and after attacking BP for allegedly putting profits over the lives of people in Louisiana, Richmond aligned Cao with big business.
"So we have to ask ourselves, who does Joe Cao really work for?" he said. "The answer is, he works for big business. He works for the Wall Street executives that are wrecking our economy."
Richmond also re-emphasized Cao's first vote in congressagainst the Lilly Ledbetter act of 2009, which would have ensured equal pay for women.
"Now for people like Joseph Cao and the others like him who don't believe that women are entitled to equal pay, I say look at my mother, and the other women who have made this country great," said Richmond. "Women don't pay less for milk, women don't pay less for gas. And women don't pay a discount on their mortgage."
"With your vote this November, you can show Joseph Cao the price of his failure to listen to the residents of the second congressional district," Richmond continued.
Richmond was joined by a bevy of legislative colleagues from Baton Rouge this evening including state Representatives Austin Badon, Neil Abramson, Helena Moreno, Jared Brossett, Girod Jackson III, and Charmaine Marchand Staies. Catering was provided by John Besh and trumpet player Kermit Ruffins played a tune before Richmond was introduced by Gretna sheriff Arthur Lawson. The event started an hour late because of a heavy summer storm, which turned many of the streets near the museum into streams for a brief period.
Richmond told the crowd he is facing a well-financed opponent, but that victory is possible. He also trumpeted national endorsements from US Senator Mary Landrieu, Former US Senator John Breaux, Minority whip James Clyburn, Congressman Kendrick Meek of Florida, and the Congressional Black Caucus. Other prominent endorsements include former Civil Sheriff Paul Valteau, Byron Lee of the Jefferson Parish Council, Clerk of Court Dale Atkins, Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell, and Louella Gibbons of the Louisiana Board of Education & Secondary Education.
"I think he's going to be a formidable candidate," said Representative Moreno, afterwards, as the crowd left for home armed with lawn signs and campaign t-shirts.