Vietnamese refugee and retired U.S. Navy captain Hung Cao, 50, won the GOP primary on Saturday and will go on to battle Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton for Northern Virginia’s 10th District.
In an impressive roster of 11 candidates, political newcomer Cao came out on top, reportedly gaining over 50 percent of the votes in the ninth round of balloting.
The retired Navy captain of over 25 years, who immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee from Vietnam in 1975, seemed the unlikeliest of candidates.
After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Cao worked as a Navy deep sea diver and explosive ordnance disposal officer, according to a campaign biography. Part of his service included recovering the plane wreckage of John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Lauren Bessette.
Cao and his family of seven made Virginia their permanent home just five years ago, after 13 moves across the States and world due to his military career.
The majority of his campaign ads include military-themed lettering and imagery. His “Hung Cao” logo, for example, is formatted like a gunsight, or the part the shooter looks through to aim their firearm.
Dressed in a simple red tee and jeans, Cao thanked voters via Twitter before reiterating that the work was not “done yet,” as they still needed to win the election in November.
Cao led the polls throughout the race for the primaries, including over Prince William County Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, who was able to raise more funds than the retired veteran but ultimately lost.
With a district population that is 15.5 percent Asian, Cao strategically targeted the region’s immigrant communities.
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Republican Party Chair of Virginia (RPV) Rich Anderson posted a congratulatory tweet, stating that Cao’s “story is compelling” and that he would be “ready on day one to represent the 10th.”
“Proud of Hung and his epic team!” Anderson posted along with one of Hung’s campaign photos.
Some key issues that Cao has made central to his campaign include those of gas prices, inflation and education.
In a tweet from earlier this month, the GOP nominee wrote, “I’ll fight to keep the woke agenda out of the classroom and restore the role of parents in our children’s education,” and included a video featuring his wife, April.
In the short clip, April describes “woke education” as an “exploitation” of students, adding that “we need serious warriors in Washington.”
It is predicted to be a tight race between the former Navy captain and Rep. Wexton, who has held the position since 2019. Whoever is elected will begin a new term starting in 2023.
Cao has since received the support of several notable members of his party, including the Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin and, most recently, Tom Cotton, a senator of Arkansas.
In his statement of support, Cotton wrote, “Hung knows the price of freedom better than most, and he’ll never give up protecting it for our children.”
In response to Cao’s win, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which works to elect Democratic candidates to Congress, tweeted that “#VA10 can’t afford another extremist rubber stamp for MAGA Republicans,” referring to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” motto.
The Constitution requires that states redraw their legislative and congressional district lines every 10years to ensure new census data lines up with representation.
Northern Virginia’s 10th district was redrawn this year, stirring more uncertainty as to how party candidates will fare in the new climate.
Other Republican congressional nominees from Saturday included Rep. Bob Good of the 5th District and Ukrainian immigrant Karina Lipsman for the majority Democratic 8th District.
Featured Image via Hung Can for Congress (right, left)