One of the biggest surprises over the weekend was the defeat of popular, but indicted, Representative William Jefferson for Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district.

But should it surprise anybody that voters preferred Anh Cao’s message of pragmatic politics? Because after reading even a little bit about this guy, I would have cast my ballot for him over Jefferson in a heartbeat if I had the chance.

NY Times has more:

Mr. Cao was a refugee from Vietnam at age 8, a former Jesuit seminarian, a philosophy student with a penchant for Camus and Dostoyevsky, an unknown activist lawyer for one of the least visible immigrant communities here and a Republican in a heavily Democratic district. […]

He is only a recent convert to the Republican Party, having been a registered independent for most of his adult life, and has no position — at least not one he cares to share yet — on President-elect Barack Obama’s agenda. His politics seem less a matter of ideology than of low-key temperament and a Jesuit-inspired desire to “help and serve people,” as he put it. […]

Now, Mr. Cao will have to persuade the district’s Democrats to keep him in office, but he says he is not worried. He said the district had not really had a representative, given Mr. Jefferson’s preoccupations.

Besides, he said, “I truly espouse Aristotle’s definition of virtue: To walk in the middle line.”

No doubt many GOPers will call Cao a RINO if he doesn’t toe the party line, but this is the type of guy who can bring independents and moderate Dems back into the Republican party. And I hope Obama finds an ally in Cao from time to time when they’re trying to solve difficult problems that require common sense solutions over partisan jockeying.

Fingers crossed.

Politics Is Anh Cao A Model For A New Republican Party?