Is Julian Castro the Democrats' Marco Rubio? (+video)(Read article summary)
Julian Castro, the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention, is a young Hispanic politician on the rise, like Sen. Marco Rubio. But in some ways, he has more in common with Barack Obama.
Who is Julian Castro? He‚Äôs the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and tonight‚Äôs keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, that‚Äôs who.
He‚Äôll be the first Hispanic to ever deliver the DNC keynote. Democrats think he‚Äôs popular enough to rise to Lone Star State governor, or even higher office. He‚Äôs got a compelling personal story ‚Äď he was raised by a strong single mom who was herself politically active. He‚Äôs got an identical twin brother who represents San Antonio in the state legislature and is likely to be elected to Congress in November.
He‚Äôs young, only 37, and has risen fast. Sound like anyone else? Yes, that‚Äôs what we thought too ‚Äď he‚Äôs the Democrats' answer to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Except Senator Rubio‚Äôs not an identical twin.
Rubio did well for himself in Tampa, Fla., with a speech that some political analysts think may have set him apart from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, and other non-Romney party heavyweights. Mr. Castro‚Äôs not at Rubio‚Äôs level yet in the sense that nobody‚Äôs talking about him as a potential 2016 nominee. But in giving the San Antonio mayor the keynote speech, Democrats may be trying to broaden their bench of nationally known figures, while attempting to woo the Hispanic vote. A twofer.
Castro's father and mother split up when he was eight. He and twin sibling Joaquin were raised by their mom, Maria ‚ÄúRosie‚ÄĚ Castro, who was an organizer in the Texas Mexican-American community in the 1970s. Her activities drew hate mail and even the interest of the Justice Department.
But today Castro says it was his mom and others like her who broke barriers, allowing Hispanics like him to have a political future.
‚ÄúIt was very warranted at that time,‚ÄĚ he told the Associated Press. ‚ÄúYou had a huge dropout rate. You had signs that said, ‚ÄėNo Mexicans or dogs allowed.‚Äô It was a movement born out of both aspiration and frustration, it was very understandable. And ultimately, I believe, [it] helped move this country forward.‚ÄĚ
His mom emphasized grades as well, paying for high marks. That paid off ‚Äď Castro went to Stanford and Harvard Law. He‚Äôs the youngest person ever elected to the San Antonio City Council, where he won a seat in 2001. He lost a try for the mayor‚Äôs seat in 2005, then came back to win on his second try, in 2009. He was reelected in 2011.
He‚Äôs a nonpartisan office holder in a city manager form of government, notes the Dallas Morning News today in a good piece on his background. Castro ‚Äúbrings a life of contrasts‚ÄĚ into his keynote address, writes the Dallas paper‚Äôs Robert T. Garrett. He‚Äôs a shy politician, a red state Democrat, and so on.
‚ÄúCastro is hyped as a future statewide or even national candidate despite his short resume. The mayor, though, has dug in to solve problems at the local level for most of a decade ‚Äď and plans to stay there for a while,‚ÄĚ writes Mr. Garrett.
Republicans, though, say that they‚Äôve seen this movie before ‚Äď in 2004, when the young and unknown Barack Obama got the chance to boost his national profile by delivering a DNC keynote.
Conservatives criticize the choice of Castro by saying he‚Äôs done little to actually merit an appearance hundreds of more experienced politicians would love to make.
‚ÄúIt is kind of creepy to see just how many hurrahs and hosannas a politician [can] generate without actually doing much of anything, particularly on bread-and-butter issues like crime and education. If a Castro defender wants to argue he‚Äôs only been in office three years, fine ... but that just raises the question of why an unaccomplished mayor is giving the keynote address. It‚Äôs like watching the Obama playbook from 2004 all over again,‚ÄĚ writes the National Review‚Äôs Jim Geraghty in his The Campaign Spot blog.