Perhaps it was fitting that in the moments that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam first came under fire late last week for a yearbook photograph portraying two men in racially insensitive manners–one in blackface, the other donning Ku Klux Klan robes–former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro was the first 2020 Democrat hopeful to call on Northam to resign.
Castro was out with a statement before any of his 2020 rivals—declared or considering—and was perhaps the boldest, directly calling on Northam to resign immediately.
“It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat,” Castro tweeted. “This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign”:
It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) February 2, 2019
Presidential candidate Julian Castro: “There’s the opportunity to understand and accept [Northam’s] apology. But I also believe that that’s separate and apart from him continuing in a position of trust and authority, which is the governor’s office. So I hope that he does resign.” pic.twitter.com/xkB8yVlkl0
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) February 2, 2019
It kicked off a leftist chain reaction. Many of Castro’s declared and potential opponents in the 2020 Democrat presidential primary, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as well as former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder jumped in behind him, as did, perhaps more importantly, many progressive groups. These ranged from the NAACP to Latino Victory to Planned Parenthood to MoveOn.org and many more leftist organizations and top Democrats throughout the party pushing for Northam’s ouster.
It is here, in identity politics with racial tinges and leftist grassroots organizing, where Castro feels most at home, those familiar with his rise to national prominence tell Breitbart News, as his mother was an early leader in hard-left organizations like La Raza.
“He is absolutely an extreme leftist,” James Dickey, the chairman of the Texas Republican Party, told Breitbart News radio on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel for a special report on Castro. “That’s the background his mother comes from, and that is what he has been and done consistently in every chance he’s gotten the opportunity to and in his announcement for running for the presidency. That’s what he said he would do.”
For this radio special and print profile, Breitbart News invited the Castro campaign to make the candidate or a surrogate available for an interview more than a week before it aired or was published. The Castro campaign did not respond to the invitation. The special first aired on Saturday, February 2, 2019, and will air again on Sunday, February 3, 2019, and in the future, on SiriusXM 125 The Patriot Channel, and is the first profile of a presidential candidate Breitbart News conducted this year. Breitbart News plans to profile all of the candidates running for president in 2020 on the Democrat side, with deep looks into their policy backgrounds, political beliefs, personal histories, and rises to national prominence.
LISTEN TO RJ HAUMAN ON BREITBART NEWS RADIO:
LISTEN TO MICHAEL PATRICK LEAHY ON BREITBART NEWS RADIO:
LISTEN TO JAMES DICKEY ON BREITBART NEWS RADIO:
“Their [Julian Castro and his brother Joaquin Castro] mother was very, very active, not just as you said in La Raza, but actually in Chicano separatist movements,” Dickey added in the Breitbart News interview. “That really doesn’t at all respect our heritage or our country or the incredible melting pot that has been the United States and the welcoming environment that we have been for immigrants for a century or more.”
Dickey is correct that Castro’s mother, Maria del Rosario Castro, or Rosie Castro, was a major leftist organizer who co-founded La Raza Unida, an extremist third party separatist group in the 1970s. La Raza Unida literally translates to “The Race United,” and the group sought to create a new country in the American Southwest called Aztlan. Breitbart News has run a number of pieces over the years on this group and the Castro family’s connections to it, but perhaps the most interesting thing about Castro’s presidential campaign launch is that he did not shy away from this radical upbringing; he embraced it.
WATCH VIDEO OF CASTRO’S FULL ANNOUNCEMENT SPEECH:
“Good morning—and buenos dias!” Castro announced to a cheering crowd as he took the stage to launch his presidential campaign in a speech in San Antonio:
First of all, I want to say a big thank you to my mom. I bet there are a lot of y’all that may have come here to see her instead of me. You know, my mom grew up on this west side of San Antonio, and she got involved in politics a long time ago because she wanted to improve her community here on the west side to make sure that folks had basic things like streets and drainage, and so she got active back then in the Young Democrats and she ran when she was 23 years old with this slate called the Committee for Barrio Betterment.
Throughout the speech, Castro flowed back and forth between English and Spanish–shifting between the two languages from the podium. And he kept harking back to his mom’s history, over and over, before, at the end, the crowd began chanting, “Julian! Julian!”
Castro makes his mother’s views sound mainstream, and not radical or extreme now, but in a New York Times Magazine interview as recently as 2012, she went off on a tirade about how she thinks the Alamo was Texans stealing a bunch of land from Mexico. Fox News reported in 2012:
The Hispanic Texas mayor whose keynote speech wowed the Democratic National Convention crowd Wednesday night draws political inspiration from his mother – who was a member of a radical civil rights movement and who reportedly thinks the truth behind the Battle of the Alamo is that Texans swiped Mexico’s land.
Maria del Rosario Castro, the mother of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, said in 2010 that she grew up being told the battle was “glorious,” only to learn the so-called heroes were really “a bunch of drunks and crooks and slaveholding imperialists who conquered land that didn’t belong to them.”
“But as a little girl I got the message — we were losers,” she told The New York Times Magazine. “I can truly say that I hate that place and everything it stands for.”
His campaign announcement speech is not the only place where Castro embraces his mother’s brand of identity politics as central to his political agenda and presidential campaign. On the “About” page of his presidential campaign website, Castro credits his familial history—including his mother’s activism—for paving his “path to public service.”
“My path to public service did not begin with me. It began when my grandmother, Victoria, came to the United States at seven years old,” Castro’s website reads, adding:
She never made it past the fourth grade, but worked hard to teach her family the value of hard work as she cleaned houses and worked as a maid. She passed on those values of hard work and perseverance to my mother, Rosie, who grew up to become a strong Chicana activist, educator and single mom to myself and my twin brother Joaquin.
“It’s wonderful that his mother cared about him and came here to have a better life; that’s great. I understand it,” RJ Hauman, the government relations director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said on the Breitbart News radio special on Castro when asked about that portion of Castro’s website. “But, again, it’s that kind of thing. It’s that kind of identity politics. It’s dealing with only emotions on this issue [immigration] that have us at this impasse right now.”
AN OPEN BORDER
Castro’s brother, Joaquin, is now a Democrat congressman, representing Texas’ 20th Congressional District. Julian, however, took a different route to national political prominence, seeking out and winning, the San Antonio mayor’s office, before now-former President Barack Obama later selected him to serve as his secretary of HUD.
While he was mayor of San Antonio, Castro was quite politically charged—and inserted himself regularly into national issue debates. It was not until 2014, well into his second term, that Obama picked Castro to lead HUD. But he was advising Obama—or pressuring the president to be more hardcore on issues he cared about, like immigration—before he even joined the Cabinet.
“Well, first and foremost, when you say ‘Obama protege,’ back before—right before President Obama did DACA, Castro was out there saying that he should go farther, that he should do it for people over 30, do it for their family members,” Hauman, of FAIR, said. “So when it comes by issuing executive orders that are unlawful, I think that he would go even farther if he was elected president than his mentor President Obama even did.”
When it comes specifically to immigration policy, a lightning-in-a-bottle issue for any politician on either side of the political aisle, especially these days, but at least for as long as Castro has been a national figure, when he served in the Obama administration, he did not have much to do with the matter—but he did as mayor of San Antonio, a sanctuary city under his watch.
“Now, again, Castro was HUD secretary, which doesn’t really weigh in on immigration matters too much, and he hasn’t been too active in terms of enacting policy or being a member of Congress or something voting on legislation to give amnesty to illegal aliens, but look no farther than when he was mayor of San Antonio, which is itself a sanctuary city,” Hauman said, examining Castro’s record for Breitbart News radio.
“Seeing him clash with Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on the issue, and kind of again being one of those local leaders—we have mayors all around the country that flout immigration laws and create these immigrant enclaves that cause greater crime and serve as magnets for future illegal immigration. San Antonio was one of those big cities—it still is one of those big cities—that, again, encourages people to come here illegally because you know you’ll be able to live, you’ll be able to work, you’ll be able to commit crimes, and you won’t be deported.”
Castro has also lent his voice to the radical left’s battle lines on the issue of immigration for years, especially recently. He blamed President Donald Trump for the migrant caravans surging from Central America through Mexico to the United States border. He has pushed for a change in U.S. policy so that immigration authorities would no longer detain prospective refugees or asylum-seekers while their claims are adjudicated instead of simply releasing them into the interior. He used nasty Spanish slang on Twitter to bash Trump when the president pardoned former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio—an immigration hardliner—calling the president a “pendejo.”
“What he’s been saying recently on this caravan crisis, family separation, things that are happening now, he said that he did not believe we should have any family detention for people that are seeking asylum or refugee status. Are you going to the zero tolerance policy if you separate families, okay? That’s inhuman,” Hauman said. “Then when we say, ‘All right. Let’s detain families together, Castro, like many other people on the open borders left.’ They say that’s inhumane too. So what is humane? To these people, the only humane thing is to release everybody into the interior of the country to just live here illegally, even though they gamed our asylum laws. So, again, this is just another one of those Democrats. Julian Castro is the same way on this issue and would be absolutely awful on this for the American people. If elected president, he would undo all of the great things that President Trump has done to restore immigration enforcement, which was previously gutted under President Obama.”
But his immigration radicalism in favor of open borders is nothing new. In 2015, as Breitbart News reported, Castro—while still secretary of HUD—linked up with the Partnership for a New American Economy. The group of open borders lobbyists, which includes high-tech and business interests, pushed for the Gang of Eight amnesty bill in 2013 and continues to push open borders policies and more immigration, not less.
“Again, on the left, if you want any immigration controls, whether legal or illegal, or you want to turn off these magnets and everything, you’re inhumane. You’re flying in the face of our values. Listen, we’re a sovereign nation with borders,” Hauman said. “We’re not governed by some sonnet on a statue in New York. Those things, those identity politics, they might play very well in the primary when all these Democrats lurch left, but that’s not true policy. We’re not governed by emotions or anything like that. We’re a sovereign state with borders. We need to deal in the seriousness of this issue and not talk in these emotional platitudes. That might play in this primary when you have all these Democrats trying to outdo themselves on this front embracing the identity politics, like you see Kamala Harris using the term LatinX in her book recently. They’re really going to have to pander so far left, Castro is just one of the many people who is going to do it. They’re all going to pander to the far left on the immigration issue and many other issues as well, and I think it’s going to put them in a really bad spot for when they have to go start speaking to people in red and purple states—they’re going to be so extreme by the time they get to that point, and Julian Castro is no different.”
While Castro is hardly the only one using his identity and background as part of his policy platform, he is certainly one of the most effective—given that he is the only major declared candidate for the Democrat nomination in 2020 who is Hispanic, and he might end up being the only one in the field.
“I do expect him to play that [his Hispanic background] up,” Dickey, the Texas chairman, said. “That appears to be the lane that he’s hoping to get. The irony is that was a lane that [Beto] O’Rourke was seeming to try to run in against Ted Cruz even though Cruz was, in fact, the Hispanic candidate in that race. It will be really interesting to see. We’re already seeing Kamala Harris come in, and now we’ve got Castro in, and each of these lanes is starting to get pretty full pretty fast.”
A WAR ON SUBURBS
While Castro’s heritage, and identity, are central to his campaign, what he lacks—according to Dickey and Hauman—is any actual policy chops or achievements. One major accomplishment, if one could call it that, that he hyped after thanking his mother in his announcement speech is an education program offering pre-school for the whole city of San Antonio—something he said he aims to roll out nationally.
“Not only has he taken positions to the left of Obama; he is more of an empty suit,” Dickey said. “He’s worse than Obama was when Obama ran. As an example, his biggest accomplishment that he claims as an accomplishment is ‘Pre-K for S.A.’ In his announcement, he said he would do ‘pre-K for all,’ or ‘Pre-K for the USA.’ Well, that Pre-K program in San Antonio, years later now, there is no tracking and no evidence that any of it has worked. It has ended up costing–as with all leftist programs–it has ended up costing much more than expected and resulted directly in tax increases on the voters of San Antonio, and there is no indication, no tracking, no responsibility. If you did a checklist on how not to do a government program, he hit the trifecta on ‘Pre-K for S.A.’–that he would now like to roll out ‘Pre-K for USA.’”
But that’s about it, policy-wise, for Castro, despite the high hopes Obama had for him when he brought him to Washington. When he was secretary at HUD, his major initiative—an aggressive plan to force suburbs to take in poor residents from American cities called the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule—never actually saw the light of day in terms of implementation. From its inception at the beginning of his time at HUD to the end of the Obama administration, the plan was slow-walked by critics and litigation that halted implementation of Castro and Obama’s plans for housing policy. But it remains a Castro priority, as he made clear in an exit interview after President Trump won the 2016 presidential election during the transition between the Obama and Trump administrations while Castro wrapped up his time in office.
“We have taken bold steps to ensure that there’s a level playing field when it comes to housing opportunity in America,” Castro said in the interview with CityLab. “The best example of that has been Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, and specifically the new AFFH assessment of fair housing tool that communities will submit to HUD. Many times, folks think of bias in the housing market as something that is yesterday. But it very much is a concern today. Ensuring that there’s a level playing field is something that everyone from individuals to private organizations to nonprofits to the public sector has a role in doing. Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is a way for HUD to do its part to ensure that there’s a level playing field. So far, we’ve had a successful rollout with the first communities that are part of the assessment of fair housing. I look forward to that continuing. I conveyed to the landing team or transition team for the next administration the importance of AFFH and of fair housing. My hope is that that strong work will continue.”
Castro’s framing of this plan is not how many others, especially critics, see it. Conservatives like Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said at the time in their successful effort to stop its implementation during the final years of the Obama administration that it would have used government fiat to force “diversity” upon American suburbs, turning them into leftist “utopias.”
As Breitbart News’s Warner Todd Huston reported in the summer of 2015:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is reporting that Obama is moving forward with threatened plans to force “diversity” on wealthier neighborhoods by using the federal government’s influence to build housing for lower income families.
Claiming it is “fulfilling a promise” to create “equal opportunity,” HUD insisted its upcoming program was an effort to end “deep-rooted segregation” in higher income communities.
“HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all,” the department said on Thursday. “The proposed policy seeks to break down barriers to access to opportunity in communities supported by HUD funds.”
HUD was immediately accused of trying to impose a socialist “utopia” throughout America, using the force of government and taxpayer money to do so.
“American citizens and communities should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to federal neighborhood engineering at the behest of an overreaching federal government,” Representative Paul Gosar (R, AZ) said upon the release of HUD’s plans.
Gosar also said that Obama “shouldn’t be holding hostage grant monies aimed at community improvement based on its unrealistic utopian ideas of what every community should resemble.”
Obama’s government, though, claims that the new policy is only meant to end “segregation” and open opportunities for lower income families to “live where they want to live.”
Breitbart News’s Michael Patrick Leahy also had an in-depth piece on the matter in the summer of 2015. Leahy wrote:
President Obama and a famous Castro brother are uniting to subjugate American suburbs with the unlawful “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule,” (AFFH) and no one in the mainstream media seems to care.
The Castro in question is Julian Castro, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, not Cuban dictator Fidel or his brother Raul, though the actual content of the administrative rule makes it hard to tell the difference.
The social engineering in the rule was first proposed in 2013. It was finalized last month after an ideological assist from the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. decision.
The AFFH rule “gives the federal government a lever to re-engineer nearly every American neighborhood — imposing a preferred racial and ethnic composition, densifying housing, transportation, and business development in suburb and city alike, and weakening or casting aside the authority of local governments over core responsibilities, from zoning to transportation to education,” as National Review’s Stanley Kurtz put it last week.
When then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan first proposed the AFFH rule in 2013, Paul Compton, a housing law expert and partner at the law firm Bradly Arant Boult Cummings told the Weekly Standard it is “a real shift in emphasis from ensuring that the private sector and participants in federal programs don’t unlawfully discriminate to defining the existence of racially and ethnically ‘segregated’ neighborhoods to be in themselves a violation of fair housing.”
Under this new rule, Compton said, “if a neighborhood is not integrated in some vaguely defined ratio, then that in itself is a fair housing issue.”
Now, with President Trump in office and Dr. Ben Carson as the new secretary of HUD, AFFH’s dreams of the left using housing policy to force social change have been put on hold. The Trump administration has pushed key decisions on the rule past the 2020 election, which, in effect, makes the issue central to the 2020 campaign. If Castro, or someone like him, is the Democrat nominee, or if he or someone like him is on the ticket in 2020 as the vice presidential nominee—another possibility—then this is most certainly going to be a main theme of the election.
“The Trump administration is rolling back the deadline for a key rule on fair housing made into law under President Barack Obama—a change with potentially broad consequences for racial segregation,” CityLab reported in early 2018. “The new guidance will give communities until well after 2020 to comply with an Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule put in place two years ago. The Obama-era rule represented a long-awaited effort to give teeth to a federal Civil Rights-era requirement that local governments take active steps to undo racial segregation.”
While Castro’s time at HUD was certainly marked by a sharp turn to the left on housing policy, the left is not fully satisfied. A piece in late 2018 in the Dallas Observer by columnist Jim Schutze ripped Castro for alleged HUD corruption that hurt an opportunity for having “killed our best shot at overcoming racial segregation.”
Schutze wrote that Castro’s “best chance to do something concrete for equality came barely four months into his two-year tenure as the boss at HUD,” but instead of seeing it through, he cut a deal with the Dallas mayor and let the city off the hook for corruption.
“HUD had been investigating racial segregation in Dallas for four years and was just about to bring down the hammer when Castro took office,” Schutze wrote. “In a sweetheart deal with Dallas’ mayor, Castro deep-sixed the investigation, threw his own investigators at HUD under the bus and let Dallas off with a kiss instead of a hammer.”
Schutze continued later in the piece, explaining how the city was in trouble per HUD’s investigation:
Citing national research and court law, the report said so-called “affordable housing” in American cities actually comes down to housing for black and Hispanic working class and poor people and people with disabilities.
A city that uses HUD money to encourage the development of apartment projects must ensure that a majority of those apartments will go to people in certain specified categories. The way things work in the world today, the lion’s share of those people are going to be nonwhite.
In case anybody was unclear where the city wanted its more white and less white apartments, HUD investigators found city officials had drawn an official map dividing the city into southern and northern hemispheres, with downtown in the northern half.
Schutze went on to explain how HUD basically had Dallas in a corner and could have forced whatever they wanted from the city—and if the city would not agree to it, then HUD could cut off potentially hundreds of millions of dollars annually in housing funding to Dallas over the scandal. But then, all of a sudden, he said, Dan Donovan—Castro’s predecessor at HUD—was out, and Castro was in, and then Castro had a series of phone calls with Dallas’s mayor, where they apparently cut a deal, ended the investigation, washed their hands of it all:
Castro had been in office mere months when he was called by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Nominally a Democrat but really a DINO, Rawlings is a wealthy former advertising executive and investor selected to be mayor by the private and powerful Dallas Citizens Council.
Rawlings said later he had spoken to Castro about the Dallas case three times on the phone. Apparently the third call was the charm. Castro caved.
The brand-new secretary decreed his agency’s own investigators had screwed up their investigation, looked at all the wrong things and left out key evidence. Castro said he didn’t agree with the proposed settlement.
Dallas was off the hook. Mayor Rawlings thanked Castro publicly and effusively for killing the case. “His commitment on this was remarkable, to be this hands-on,” Rawlings said.
Now, if people look closely at all of this history — and, if Castro runs for president, people will — they’re going to find some anomalies I haven’t necessarily reflected here. One is that in Dallas the old black establishment is and has always been opposed to integration.
When asked about this story in the Dallas Observer, and the fact that Castro is facing criticism from the left, Dickey of the Texas GOP told Breitbart News radio that it does not surprise him.
“We hear in the press all the time the claim—and Democrats like to claim—that Republicans are going to have a tough time because they’re just becoming more extreme and more to the right,” Dickey said. “But a Pew research study showed that it’s Democrats who are actually moving to the left much, much faster. Yes, polarization is increasing, but a big majority of that increase is coming from Democrats racing to the left. And we’re seeing it in their leading candidates. Beto O’Rourke, even running in Texas, was outright advocating socialist policies—and that’s what got him support on the Democrat side. So it is, it’s surprising to see someone with such a leftist background as Castro getting grief for not being far left enough. But that’s reasonable about what to expect from the Democrat base now.”
But that is not all. His very appointment to HUD itself was made under murky circumstances with his own city, San Antonio, as his city was under investigation for alleged misuse of HUD funding. Obama made the appointment anyway, as Breitbart News reported at the time.
Once he was elected mayor of San Antonio in 2009, at age 30, Democrats had high hopes for Julian Castro. He was widely considered to be a potential statewide candidate in Texas, long before anyone ever heard of Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke. And Democrats have dreamed of turning Texas blue in a statewide race for years now but have been thwarted in that goal time and again, whether it be O’Rourke’s recent near-miss against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in 2018 or Wendy Davis’s shellacking in 2014. Castro was the first one Democrats thought could pull off mission impossible.
A 2015 profile of Castro and his brother published in the Atlantic, written by leftist Mother Jones reporter Andy Kroll, walked through how Julian Castro always had eyes on a U.S. Senate seat or gubernatorial bid in Texas before he eventually took a job in the Obama administration. After Obama won re-election, Kroll wrote, the president and his senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, met with Castro about potentially taking the Transportation Secretary position—a job he declined.
“Shortly after the election, Obama and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett met with Julián to gauge his interest in joining the Cabinet; they didn’t specify which department, but it was clearly Transportation, which didn’t appeal to him,” Kroll wrote. “He said no, but the idea of taking a post in D.C. had been planted.”
But Julian Castro’s mother, in an interview with Kroll, hyped the possibility of one of her sons making it to a statewide office—or potentially higher than that, like president or vice president—as the first Latino statewide Democrat official from Texas.
“The whole idea that they could be governor, senator, vice president, president—it excites people,” Rosie Castro said. “Everybody is waiting for the first Latino governor of Texas. Everybody is waiting for that first Latino president or vice president.”
In a 1997 profile for a magazine in San Antonio, Julian Castro—before he even went off to Harvard Law School, but after college at Stanford—said he and his brother view their futures as possibly being governor or senator from Texas.
“We do not consider the office of governor or [U.S.] senator an impossibility,” Julian Castro is quoted as saying in the magazine profile, as recalled by Kroll’s piece.
Instead, when Obama came a-calling again, this time in 2014, Castro answered the call and took the easy way up—through a presidential appointment, rather than an uphill successful statewide election in Texas as a Democrat—to a national profile.
This past spring, President Obama and Mayor Castro were featured speakers at the LBJ Presidential Library’s 50th anniversary celebration in Austin. Backstage, Julián recalls, the president sidled up to him. “He said, ‘I’ve been meaning to give you a call. Let’s talk soon.’ Probably a week later, he called, and we had [a] conversation about possibly joining the administration.” This time, the offer was to run HUD—a department closer to Julián’s heart, given his urban-development efforts in San Antonio. The brothers also understood perfectly well that there was no chance that the mayor of San Antonio would be tapped as vice president. But a young Latino Cabinet member with Clinton-style moderate politics and a ton of great press? Maybe.
It wasn’t an automatic call, though. Leaving Texas would take Julián off the path to the governor’s office that so many expected him to follow when his fourth two-year term as mayor (that was now the term limit) ended in 2017. The timing had once sounded plausible. Political pundits and optimistic Democrats had long expected favorable demographic trends—a whole lot of young people of color becoming voters, that is—to make statewide elections winnable by then, especially for the right candidate. (And if there were ever a “right” Democratic candidate, most agreed, it was Julián Castro.) But with the much-hyped gubernatorial bid of state Sen. Wendy Davis headed toward a historic rout—she lost by more than 20 percentage points—the revival of Texas Democrats had begun to look like a far more distant prospect.
By doing that, instead of running a hard race like O’Rourke did, he took a less combative path to leftist political stardom, Dickey said, but that may have cost Castro valuable credibility from the media and the left.
“Now, he’s actually reaping the downside of that, which is, he was, politically, he’s been irrelevant for a couple of years,” Dickey said. “And in politics, a couple of years can be a lifetime. So it will be really interesting to see if Beto [O’Rourke] or Elizabeth Warren or any of the other dozens of Democrats that are likely to run for this nomination, they have been in the news much more recently and have built up an organization much more recently, if that doesn’t make his what might have been a more meaningful candidacy a very short-lived one.”
And with Democrats nipping at GOP heels in Texas, Dickey said, the dynamic between Castro and O’Rourke—should the latter also run in 2020 as expected—will be all the more interesting to watch. But Republicans, Dickey said, need to be on guard in Texas, especially with O’Rourke and Castro on the rise nationally on the Democrat side.
“Well, O’Rourke came within two-and-a-half percent of catching Sen. Cruz,” Dickey said. “A lot of things went into that. But, absolutely, we are communicating to all of our supporters, to the country as a whole, that, absolutely, Democrats with enough effort, a good enough candidate, some luck on their side, absolutely could win Texas, and we better take it seriously because a loss in Texas means a loss not just of the presidency, but a loss of redistricting in Texas, which means several more congressional seats [for Democrats]. It would be absolutely catastrophic. And it is not outside the realm of possibility. We need to take that seriously and work as if it is a very real possibility.”
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