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Really? We Can Pencil It In Already? Clinton-Castro 2016?

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Really? We Can Pencil It In Already? Clinton-Castro 2016?

If you were a clear-thinking Democrat, this is the sort of news that would make you burst into tears of despair:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is likely to choose Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julián Castro or another Hispanic politician to be her running mate, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros said in an interview that will air Sunday.

“What I am hearing in Washington, including from people in Hillary Clinton’s campaign, is that the first person on their lists is Julián Castro, the … Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who use[d] to be the Mayor of San Antonio,” he said in an interview with Univision’s “Al Punto.” 

“They don’t have a second option, because he is the superior candidate considering his record, personality, demeanor and Latin heritage.”

“I think there is a very high possibility that Hillary Clinton may choose Julián Castro,” he said.”

A one-option veep list? That Democratic bench isn’t just thin, it’s anorexic. And do Democrats really want to put the 40–year-old Castro a heartbeat away from the presidency? If this pans out, we’ll get to watch Democrats and the media insisting that Castro’s time as mayor of San Antonio and two years at HUD represented some sort of American policy renaissance and an era of bold leadership.

Back in 2012, when Castro was giving the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, I pointed out that San Antonio hadn’t gotten much better on his watch, particularly in the areas he claimed to emphasize, education and crime. By 2014, as he was joining HUD, his record as mayor included a few more local political scandals and a barely-budging poverty rate, even as the area economy soared from the shale boom. Castro left San Antonio in roughly the same shape as it was before he became mayor – and yet somehow became one of the Democratic Party’s biggest stars and, if Cisneros is right, the only serious option for Hillary’s running mate.

As I summarized last year:

Castro leveraged his rise-from-humble-roots narrative and the occasional wacky joke into national press coverage that most senators and governors would envy — major national-magazine profiles, a TED talk, an appearance on Meet the Press, a six-figure memoir deal. It’s fair to wonder whether Castro would get the same attention if he were not a member of a demographic increasingly important for national politics.

Cisneros appearing on the ticket would demonstrate that identity politics is to Democrats like that old quote about winning is to sports coaches: It’s not everything, it’s the only thing. 

Above: Chuck Kerr, an artist at Current, emphasized Julian Castro’s seemingly pre-ordained role in national Democratic politics.

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