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GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

Cao is a former U.S Navy captain.

By Jesse Valentine - March 29, 2024
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A woman carries yard signs for Hung Cao, Republican candidate for Virginia's 10th Congressional district, at the Prince William County Republican Committee's election kickoff barbecue at VFW Post 1503 in Dale City, Va., on Saturday, September 17, 2022.
A woman carries yard signs for Hung Cao, Republican candidate for Virginia's 10th Congressional district, at the Prince William County Republican Committee's election kickoff barbecue at VFW Post 1503 in Dale City, Va., on Saturday, September 17, 2022 (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Hung Cao, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in Virginia, blamed the Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster on racial equity. He’s one of several Republicans to make this baseless claim.

In the early hours of March 26, a cargo ship that lost power collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which stretched over the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland. The bridge collapsed as a result. Six construction workers repairing potholes on the structure lost their lives.

Later that same morning, Cao appeared on the conservative talk radio program O’Connor and Company. The host, Larry O’Connor, said, without evidence, that efforts by the Department of Transportation to end racist urban planning practices were responsible for the tragedy.

“There is a feeling in this country that things just aren’t working, from airplane doors falling off to the train wrecks on a regular basis.” O’Connor said. “We have now this incident. We have a Secretary of Transportation in Pete Buttigieg who spends more time talking about racial equity with regard to highways and about climate change than about focusing on the fundamentals of keeping our country and our infrastructure working.”

Cao said this assessment was “absolutely right” and doubled down on it a few moments later.

“Like you said, they’re so worried about other things, you know, instead of infrastructure,” Cao said.

In addition to agreeing with O’Connor’s analysis, Cao said the ship’s crew was partially responsible for not dropping an anchor. This is incorrect. The crew did drop anchors after the outage occurred. Even with anchors deployed, ships of this size will still travel 500 to 600 yards before coming to a stop.

Cao is a retired U.S. Navy captain. If he secures the Republican nomination he will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine in the November election.

Kaine posted about the tragedy on the social media platform X.

“The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore is devastating,” Kaine said. “My heart is with our neighbors in Maryland today. Thankful for the first responders on the scene.”

On March 28, President Joe Biden’s administration made $60 million in federal funds available to help rebuild the bridge.

Virginia’s Republican primary is scheduled for June 18. A Cao spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions for this story.


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