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Vietnam-born lawyer wins US poll

Anh Joseph Cao, daughter Betsy and wife Kate Hieu Hoang
Anh Joseph Cao has never held public office before

Voters in the US state of Louisiana have elected the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress.

Anh Joseph Cao, a Republican, defeated the incumbent Democrat Representative William Jefferson, who faces trial on bribery and money-laundering charges.

Lawyer Mr Cao was born in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, and came to the US with his family at the age of eight, after the end of the Vietnam War.

The election, delayed by Hurricane Gustav, was one of two in Louisiana.

Both resulted in victories for the Republican Party.

Mr Cao won 50% of the vote in the 2nd congressional district, which includes most of New Orleans, to Mr Jefferson's 47%, state officials said.

Strong campaign

Analysts say the Republicans ran an aggressive campaign to take the seat from Mr Jefferson, 61, who is accused of soliciting millions of dollars in bribes and using his office to broker business deals in Africa.

In a search of his home, FBI agents said they found $90,000 in bribe money in a freezer.

Mr Jefferson, who has been in Congress since 1991, denies the charges and a trial date has not yet been set.

William Jefferson
Democrat William Jefferson denies any wrongdoing

Mr Cao, 41, has never held public office before. His father was an officer in the South Vietnamese army who spent seven years in a communist prison before moving to the US.

"The people of the 2nd District have spoken. We want new direction. We want action. We want accountability," Mr Cao told supporters.

Mr Jefferson blamed low voter turnout for his defeat.

In the 4th Congressional District in western Louisiana, Republican John Fleming narrowly beat Democrat Paul Carmouche in the race to replace retiring 10-term Republican Jim McCrery.

Both polls were postponed because of Hurricane Gustav, which pounded Louisiana in September.

Mr Jefferson's defeat will not seriously affect the balance of power in the US House of Representatives, where Democrats hold a strong majority of the 435 seats.

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