Former U.S. Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao dropped out of the race for attorney general Tuesday, allowing a second statewide elected official to gain re-election without opposition.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell joins state Treasurer John Kennedy without challengers on the Oct. 22 election ballot.
Cao filed official withdrawal of candidacy papers with the secretary of state’s office Tuesday.
Caldwell and Cao are both Republicans.
Cao could not be reached for comment at his New Orleans law firm. He did not return two messages seeking an interview.
In a written statement, Cao said he made the decision after meeting with Caldwell, “who made the assurance that he will fight for the best interests of the people of Louisiana.”
“Whether as an elected official or a private citizen, I too will continue to serve the people of this state and fight for what is best for our people,” Cao stated.
Caldwell said he met with Cao late last week.
“We are happy he satisfied himself with what we are doing,” Caldwell said Tuesday in a phone interview. “It’s rare that someone who opposes you thanks you for doing a good job and that’s exactly what he did.”
With Cao’s departure, Caldwell said he canceled the filming of campaign ads scheduled for Tuesday.
“We had a lot planned so that’s a good avoidance of needless expenditures,” Caldwell said.
Cao faced a tough uphill challenge with difficulty raising campaign funds to get any kind of statewide exposure.
Caldwell, who recently became a Republican, won re-election endorsements from U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Gov. Bobby Jindal in recent weeks.
Cao beat embattled veteran U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, a Democrat, in 2008 to gain the seat in the majority black 2nd Congressional District. He became the first Vietnamese-American to serve in Congress.
Cao lost a bid for re-election to a New Orleans-based congressional seat in 2010 to Democrat Cedric Richmond, who was a state representative at the time.
Earlier this year, Caldwell switched his party registration from Democrat to Republican.
Before switching, he became the only Democratic attorney general in the U.S. to challenge the constitutionality of the national health-care overhaul, which he has referred to as “Obamacare.”
Prior to winning in 2007, Caldwell had been a longtime district attorney from northeast Louisiana.