BATON ROUGE, La. (Legal Newsline) - Almost two weeks after filing to run for Louisiana attorney general, former U.S. Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao has pulled out of the race.

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State's website, Cao, the first Vietnamese American to serve in Congress, withdrew Tuesday.

The Republican, who officially filed to run against incumbent James "Buddy Caldwell" on Sept. 8, told Louisiana news station WWLTV on Monday that he spoke with the attorney general last week and decided it was in the best interest of the state to drop out.

Cao first announced his plans to challenge the now-Republican Caldwell for the post in April.

He pointed to Caldwell's switch from Democrat to Republican as a reason for running, calling the move a "politically expedient... flip flop."

Caldwell officially switched parties on Feb. 2.

Cao served in Congress from 2009 to 2011, representing Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District, and was the first Republican to serve in that district since 1891.

Caldwell already has the backing of a junior GOP senator.

Last month, U.S. Sen. David Vitter endorsed him for reelection.

He praised Caldwell's commitment to conservative principles and protecting the state's taxpayers and families, calling him "a leader."

"Buddy Caldwell has consistently fought to protect Louisiana taxpayers and Louisiana families. I am proud to endorse him for reelection as attorney general," said Vitter, Louisiana's Republican senator.

"Buddy has fought Obamacare in the courts, stood up against illegal immigration and supported our core principles of mainstream conservative reform. He's locked up violent predators that harm our families and children, and given victims a strong voice in the criminal justice system.

"Thanks to Buddy Caldwell, Louisiana's a safer and a better place to work and raise our families. That's why we need keep him as our attorney general."

Caldwell was one of the original state attorneys general to file suit challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's federal health care reform.

Fourteen states, along with 12 others, filed a challenge to the law in March 2010. The 26 states contend that its individual mandate requiring that all Americans purchase health insurance or face a penalty is unconstitutional.

But Cao recently criticized Caldwell for not doing enough to fight oil giant BP following last year's Gulf oil spill.

"I believe the state needs an aggressive attorney general to fight for the state and its citizens of the state especially on the problems from the BP oil spill," he told a New Orleans newspaper earlier this month.

An explosion and fire occurred on Transocean's drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, licensed to BP, on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and resulting in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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