It hasn’t exactly been a great week for Julián Castro. On Monday, the former San Antonio mayor got a slap on the wrist for stumping for Hillary Clinton when, as a White House cabinet official conducting an interview about cabinet-official stuff in front of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development backdrop, he shouldn’t have been.
More bad news dropped Friday when Clinton finally announced her VP pick as U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, not the “post-Hispanic Hispanic politician"
that Texas Democrats had hoped would rise to join the Clinton ticket.
Even though, due to his short political resume, Castro was always really a long shot for a vice presidential pick, he'd been on a lot of people's shortlist to become the first-ever Hispanic vice presidential candidate ever since the party tapped him to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Many saw in Castro a valuable commodity – a young, popular Latino – as the party sought to energize the sleeping-giant Hispanic voting base heading into the general election.
Then, paradoxically, it seemed Castro’s shot at the VP pick was dwindling as Donald Trump rose to prominence on a wave of incendiary, racist statements against Hispanics. The thinking went something like this: If Trump, who launched his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans “rapists,” couldn’t scare Hispanics into turning out at the polls, what more could a relatively obscure South Texas city politician-turned cabinet member do?
While Castro’s supporters are likely disappointed (if not entirely unsurprised) that he didn’t make the VP cut, the greatest immediate blow might be to his fledgling state party
, which desperately needs to boost voter turnout if it's ever going to have a shot at turning Texas blue. It's not immediately clear what's going to happen to one of the party's biggest rising stars once the sun sets on Castro's cabinet appointment in January. While his role as HUD secretary pretty much bars him from discussing his prospects, people have already started to float his name among possible Democratic challengers
to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in 2018.