Born in war-ravaged Vietnam, Cao fled to the United States when he was 8, learned English, earned degrees in physics and philosophy, and joined the Catholic seminary. When his views on how best to serve the poor changed, Cao went to law school, began a practice specializing in immigration, settled in Venetian Isles and started a family.
In his bid to unseat Rep. William Jefferson in the 2nd Congressional District, however, Cao must try to overcome three tall hurdles: He's not a Democrat, he's not black and he has never held public office. Indeed, in his only other election bid, Cao, running then as an independent, finished fifth of six candidates.
Though Jefferson's star has dimmed considerably since federal authorities charged him in a wide-ranging bribery scheme, the nine-term incumbent remains a force in local politics.