More news emanating from our new Congressional maps: Congressman Charlie Gonzalez announced today that he is retiring, and will not seek re-election to the 20th district. Now, former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez and State Representative Joaquin Castro are shuffling their intended seats to try and capitalize on the opportunity. From the San Antonio Express-News:
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez said Friday he will not seek re-election, a decision that will end the congressional tenure of a Democratic family whose name has been synonymous with the city of San Antonio for more than half a century. …
It also presents a political opportunity to state Rep. Joaquín Castro, twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. The Democrat likely will seek Gonzalez's 20th Congressional District seat, his spokesman Cary Clack said.
Former U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, another Democrat, is eyeing the newly redrawn 35th district in which Castro originally intended to run.
“It's about having lived in this district almost my entire life,” said Rodriguez, who previously served in the 28th district before being ousted by Rep. Henry Bonilla, D-Laredo, and in the 23rd district before losing to Rep. Quico Canseco, R-San Antonio.
Previously, Rodriguez had announced his intentions to contest the 23rd district, which he lost to Quico “I Vote Against Cops and Firefighters” Canseco in 2010. State Representative Pete Gallego had also announced intentions to run for the seat.
Let's look at the districts and the share of the vote each gave Barack Obama and Bill White, as well as the share of Spanish-surname voter registration:
20th: 58.5% Obama, 56.9% White; SSVR-T 52.6%
23rd: 51.4% Obama, 47.8% White; SSVR-T 52.2%
35th: 54.4% Obama, 51.4% White; SSVR-T 44.2%
Castro, in moving from the new 35th to the 20th, will now be running in a district that is more comfortably Democratic in both Presidential and Gubernatorial cycles. Ciro moves from a tough primary and tough general election battle to what is likely to be at least an easier November match-up and easier hold in non-Presidential cycles. This was a smart move for Ciro, who will no longer face a primary against State Representative Pete Gallego, who has represented much of the turf that makes up CD-23 in the Legislature as the 74th district for the past 20 years.
Gallego, who has already started fundraising for the 23rd, will face a general election opponent in Canseco. Arguably if Gallego can avoid a tough primary battle for what is still a swing district, that helps Democrats conserve resources and win even more seats next November.
Both the 20th and 35th should be solid Democratic seats. So it remains to be seen if either Castro or Rodriguez will draw a primary challenger. Any rumors?
Meanwhile, a special note of thanks to Congressman Gonzalez for his long service to San Antonio, following in the footsteps of his father, Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez. He also currently chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. It is exciting to see a new generation of leaders running for these seats, but it's also sad, in a way, to lose so much seniority and institutional memory. Best of luck to Gonzalez as he looks towards his future!