Politics & Policy

Julian Castro, Hillary’s Rumored Veep Pick, Wasn’t a Real Mayor

(Alex Wong/Getty)

Months before the 2016 election really begins in earnest, there is serious speculation that Hillary Clinton, the near-inevitable Democratic-party presidential nominee, has already settled on her vice-presidential pick: Julián Castro. The former mayor of San Antonio has already gotten his share of glowing media coverage, and his appointment as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has given him some national cred.

But even a cursory glance at Castro’s curriculum vitae reveals a laughably thin set of accomplishments, betraying the real reasons why Castro is in the conversation — reasons that liberal Latino pundits and organizations are all too willing to overlook in the name of electoral success.

Julián Castro is often introduced as the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Presumably, journalists and the general public think of this as a major accomplishment and a useful dose of executive experience — it is, after all, a city of 1.4 million people. But San Antonio doesn’t work like most high-profile American cities, such as New York and Chicago, which are largely run by their mayors. It runs under the council-manager form of government, meaning the city council appoints a city manager who actually handles the day-to-day operations of government.

Sheryl Sculley, San Antonio’s current city manager, will make $400,000 this year for her troubles; whereas until this May, the mayor was paid about $4,000 annually. Castro’s job was essentially to be a professional ribbon cutter. He could blather on about policy goals and direction, but had no substantive power to realize it. Mayor Castro was to Sheryl Sculley as Queen Elizabeth II is to David Cameron — with even less executive authority. Yet for many Democrats, this is still apparently sufficient to qualify for “rising star” status.

After serving two-and-a-half terms as city mascot mayor, on July 28, 2014, Castro assumed office as HUD secretary. Even assuming Castro remains in charge of HUD until November 2016, he will have just over two years of decision-making experience of a middling federal department.

This is the man Democrats are willing to place a heartbeat away from the presidency? Social media may have atrophied our short-term memory, but it’s not hard to recall the charges of “inexperienced” and “unqualified” leveled against a certain governor of Alaska in 2008. Even Clinton-aligned strategists admit she had more experience than Castro would at selection time.

Regardless, Latino Democratic pundits would do their best to downplay Castro’s inexperience and suggest that, given his Mexican background, he’s the true Latino in the race, compared with Cuban Americans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. But considering that Jeb Bush speaks Spanish more fluently than Castro does, and Castro’s personal history is less relatable to many Latino immigrants than Rubio’s — the Castros have been in the U.S. since 1922 — they’ll have their work cut out for them. This is, of course, not meant to dismiss or diminish Castro’s Latino identity; it’s just important to note that Cruz and Rubio have already had their identities and relation to the broader Latino community questioned on similar grounds.

#related#Castro’s prominence highlights how non-existent Latino Democrats are on the national stage. Senator Bob Menendez is the only Democrat representing a state at the federal level, and Democratic-party leaders are feeling the heat from Latino activists alleging there’s not enough support for Latino candidates in Senate and gubernatorial campaigns. Meanwhile, the GOP can cite current governors Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez as infinitely more qualified potential VP nominees, never mind the two senators running for president.

The roles have reversed from 2008 and 2012: Hillary Clinton is the old and busted candidate, in need of a youthful partner, while the GOP doesn’t lack for vigor, in the form of Rubio, Cruz, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker. The Democrats may need a game changer, and they’re desperate for someone to revitalize a disillusioned Latino voting bloc no matter how inadequate the qualifications. Castro as the answer would be blatant pandering. And it would be laughable — if it weren’t so insulting to Latinos’ intelligence.

— Samuel A. Rosado is an attorney residing in New Jersey. He served as executive director of the Republican Hispanic Assembly of New Jersey in 2010 and has been a freelance contributor and writer on Hispanic issues and engagement. You can reach him on Twitter at @SamARosado.

Most Popular

Elections

Hell, No

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about language, culture, politics, and other things you can fight with your family about at Thanksgiving. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox, follow this link. The Case against Trump In 2016, my friend Roger Kimball of Encounter ... Read More
Elections

Hell, No

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about language, culture, politics, and other things you can fight with your family about at Thanksgiving. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox, follow this link. The Case against Trump In 2016, my friend Roger Kimball of Encounter ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More
Elections

The Only Middle Finger Available

If Donald Trump wins a second term, it will be an unmistakable countercultural statement in a year when progressives have otherwise worked their will across the culture. After months and months of statues toppling and riots in American cities and a crime wave and woke virtue-signaling from professional sports ... Read More
Elections

The Only Middle Finger Available

If Donald Trump wins a second term, it will be an unmistakable countercultural statement in a year when progressives have otherwise worked their will across the culture. After months and months of statues toppling and riots in American cities and a crime wave and woke virtue-signaling from professional sports ... Read More

Trump vs. Biden: A Rundown

One week out, the contrasts are worth assessing. Foreign policy Biden so far has issued no substantive critique of Trump’s foreign policy other than banalities that Trump’s comportment and unpredictability have offended allies and tarnished America’s reputation. But who exactly, according to Biden, is ... Read More

Trump vs. Biden: A Rundown

One week out, the contrasts are worth assessing. Foreign policy Biden so far has issued no substantive critique of Trump’s foreign policy other than banalities that Trump’s comportment and unpredictability have offended allies and tarnished America’s reputation. But who exactly, according to Biden, is ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Kavanaugh Court

If Justice Barrett votes as her mentor Justice Scalia did, she will be part of an ascendant conservative majority on the Supreme Court. What kinds of decisions can we expect from this majority? Short answer: Ask Brett Kavanaugh. Contrary to how journalists frame each seat change on the Court, comparing the new ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Kavanaugh Court

If Justice Barrett votes as her mentor Justice Scalia did, she will be part of an ascendant conservative majority on the Supreme Court. What kinds of decisions can we expect from this majority? Short answer: Ask Brett Kavanaugh. Contrary to how journalists frame each seat change on the Court, comparing the new ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More