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Government/Politics

Three Options For Julián Castro, Now That VP Is Out

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Texas Public Radio

Four years ago, Julián Castro – then-mayor of San Antonio – delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. That moment was expected to launch him into the political stratosphere as one of the party’s brightest stars, and his 2014 appointment as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) affirmed that trajectory.

It was long speculated that Castro’s next jump could be to the 2016 presidential ticket. But when presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton picked her running mate last week, Castro didn’t get the call. He was passed over for Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

Castro told the Washington Post that he was “disappointed” by Clinton’s decision.

He will serve out his term at HUD, but the future of his career after that isn’t so clear. Gilbert Garcia, a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, says Castro has three clear political options.

Among all the emails from the Democratic National Committee exposed by WikiLeaks recently, one key phrase surfaced: “Julian Castro is no longer a rising star. Once you’re Secretary of anything I think we just have to recognize him as accomplished, period.” Garcia says that note speaks to the challenges Castro faces as a politician.

“It also speaks to the specific political challenge he has as someone from Texas,” Garcia says. “For a long time I thought of him as kind of the Democratic equivalent of the young George H.W. Bush in the 1960s.”

Back then, Bush was a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic Texas, Garcia says, and couldn’t get elected to a statewide office. By the same token, Castro – a young Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican Texas – may face hurdles to getting elected statewide. Garcia says Castro could take a similar path to Bush, who moved up through the political ranks through appointments. There’s no question that Castro wants to continue moving up, Garcia says.

“If Hillary Clinton gets elected president I think it would certainly be plausible that he could get an offer of a cabinet appointment,” Garcia says. “Education secretary would make a lot of sense for him. He could come back to Texas and plan for a statewide run – either U.S. senator or governor. That would be very difficult as a Democrat.

“We heard talk about him as a possible successor to Debbie Wasserman Schultz as Democratic National Committee chair. [Although Castro has said he has no interest in the position.] And I think that’s kind of intriguing – there would be some pitfalls there for him, possibly, but I think that’s something that’s being talked about now.”