In the primary, LaFonta received 21 percent of the vote, well behind Richmond, but ahead of third place finisher Eugene Green, who has already endorsed Richmond. LaFonta said that he was elected to “speak out when I knew dishonesty and corruption threatened to undermine what we have worked so hard to achieve. I must speak out now.”
LaFonta’s comments are a stinging blow to Richmond and verify the suspicions of some political observers about the New Orleans State Representative. This endorsement is major for Cao because it shows that not all Democrats are behind Richmond. To win, Cao will need a significant percentage of African Americans and Democrats to support his bid for re-election. By endorsing the Republican incumbent, LaFonta is displaying a rare commodity in local politics, courage. LaFonta is breaking from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the President of the United States by supporting Cao. His support speaks volumes about the reputations of both Cao and his opponent.
LaFonta is not the only prominent Democrat to cross the political aisle and support Cao. Earlier in the week, Cao picked up endorsements from New Orleans Councilmember Stacy Head and Orleans Parish Assessor Errol Williams. This Orleans Parish support, coupled with the endorsement from Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand means that Cao will have plenty of supporters working the district for him on Election Day.
These key endorsements will also give Cao momentum going into the crucial homestretch of the election. It will allow the Congressman to raise additional funds for his final television and radio blitz. It also means that it is too early to count out the most unlikely member of Congress, Joseph Cao..