San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, left, and U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, right.
Twin politicians, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, (D-San Antonio), and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, have been making their presence known across the country through this year's Democratic Party's national speaking circuit.
The young, charismatic brothers -- who Democrats projected upon the national stage through Julian Castro's keynote speech in the 2012 Democratic National Convention -- will by the end of October have appeared at major functions in at least 11 states outside Texas, and as guests in the sets of national TV programs like NBC's "Meet the Press" and ABC's "This Week."
If all of this brings about feelings of déjà vu, it might be because after his own DNC speech in 2004, then-State Senator Barack Obama began to highlight many national fundraisers, which allowed him to build a national donor and activist network. That same year, Obama went on to be elected as U.S. Senator of Illinois, and then as President of the United States in 2008 -- becoming the first biracial candidate to ever hold the presidency.
Is this the future that awaits the Castro brothers? Will either Julian or Joaquin Castro soon make history by becoming the first Hispanic-American elected as President of the United States?
Read more about what the two brothers have been up to after the jump.
If Texas were a Red State you wouldn't have known by the way we dominated the spotlight at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. It could be that Texas' soil is somehow richer for growing talent or that our pride is so strong we must represent loud and proud, "We're from Texas". But, whichever the case from Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio to America's most desperate, er, favorite Desperate Housewife, Eva Longoria of Corpus Christi to University of Texas graduate and President of College Democrats of America Alejandra Salinas, Texans made the case for President Obama. The most precious and unexpected to reach Lone Stardom during Prime Time was Mayor Castro's daughter Carina, who stole the show after seeing herself on the jumbotron.
The spirit was high and the arena standing room only. We could have used our own cell tower, believe me there would have been a lot more tweets and Facebook status updates. There were a couple of charging stations but no one's devices seemed to be able to keep up with the excitement. My non-speech lights had to include walking into the arena to James Taylor sound checking "Carolina in my Mind", the Foo Fighters performing an acoustic version of "My Hero", and video bombing The Daily Show and MTV News.
I don't know if the stadium would have been full for the main event but I suspect so by the number of disappointed travelers and a supposed 19,000 name waiting list. It was no doubt the right decision as it poured down during the entire time crowds would have been entering the stadium. One could also assume that if they'd really planned to have it inside they would've at least had balloons prepared. Most importantly though you don't want to upset the tens of thousands of party activists who were already in town spending money who feel slighted in some way. Keeping your base happy is more important than saving a little face over a sparse section or two of a 70k capacity stadium.
The speakers were amazing and on message, and you can find some of the best at demconvention.com. By cheers the undisputed winner was Jennifer Granholm former Governor of Michigan. Her speech will for ever more be capsulized in this gem of a gif. She focused on the auto bailout and jobs - going into a crescendo of jobs saved by state all culminating to, "The great state of Michigan - 211,000 good paying American jobs!".
There was a theme and for the first time in a long time the Democratic Party started to seem organized, energized and possibly most important - confident. There were no apologies for stances on; marriage equality, climate change, healthcare, immigration, or voting rights. The theme was - were all in this together but education and opportunity are the keys to success and the American dream. And, the DNC version of the American Dream was not limited to those who could, "borrow money from their parents". The convention was diverse, and inclusive but still managed set a clear tone about what it mean to move "Forward". The DNC came out in complete support of marriage equality. It wasn't one canned speech by a gay or lesbian supporter but several speakers who gave personal accounts and nearly half of all speeches acknowledged the issue. There was a "Dreamer", cancer survivor, firemen, military men and women, former Republicans all speaking with the same goal but from their own perspective.
The President continued down the path laid by prior speakers that education and opportunity will lead to job growth and a better economy. He used his own life experience as proof that with hard work and a fair chance we can accomplish anything. The most powerful part of his speech was when he said, "You're the reason" , which for all purposes could have been replaced with "you built this".
You're the reason there's a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who'll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can't limit her coverage. You did that.
You're the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought he'd be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance. You made that possible.
You're the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she's ever called home; why selfless soldiers won't be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who served us so bravely: "Welcome home."
If you turn away now - if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible...well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should make for themselves.
Only you can make sure that doesn't happen. Only you have the power to move us forward.
Perhaps it hit home so hard because it reminds me of what I said in 2008 when I introduced the then Senator Obama as "The next President of the United States." I said then as is true now, "Its just the beginning, we have a lot of work to do...We can't expect some one to take our dreams and our hopes to Washington unless we stay right here at home and fight for those very same things."
Then there is Vice President Joe Biden. If there is ever a politician you look at and get the urge to want to share a beer with, its "Uncle Joe". That's what the Obama campaign is banking blue collar working types and Catholic men will be thinking and also why the RNC has recently gone on the attack trying to portray him as a liability. The President called his attack dog in chief, "the best Vice President I could ever hope for."
Democrats are confident, not so confident that they are taking November for granted but confident enough to start speculating about 2016. The talk of whether Joe Biden, a former candidate for President, would try again or if Hillary would give it another shot. Hillary is in a great position. No one would ever question if she was ready for the 3am phone call and her approval rating is at an incredible 66%. For Joe's case there seemed to be some consensus that a then 73 year old President Biden would only be running for 1term but that it could open the door to someone else on the ticket. That brings us to Julian Castro - the young mayor of San Antonio. Practically speaking no Mayor in recent memory other than Giuliani was even considered a serious contender. But, there is one office that American's do like to elevate to President and that's Governor. If Texan's are able to harness and build on the enthusiasm, optimism and unity from the DNC in 2014, electing an other Texas Governor as President may not seem like such a crazy idea after all.
Opportunity for all Americans was a major theme of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. State Senator Carlos Uresti was inspired by the week's events, including the speech by his Mayor, Julian Castro. He recognizes, however, that rhetoric only goes so far. Here, he makes the case to go further, taking this theme into the 2013 Texas Legislative session.
With the Republican and Democratic national conventions behind us, the fall campaigns for the White House, Congress and state legislatures are fully underway. The messages, themes, and visions presented by each party present voters with clear choices in the most important election cycle in recent history.
But after the campaigning is done and all the votes are cast, the time will come for the victors to govern. Everyone - from the president to the newest member of the Texas House - will need to put their differences aside and focus on what can be done together.
That will be particularly true in Texas, where the next session of the Legislature will address a number of issues critical to our future - public education, health and human services, public safety, and the environment, with a focus on water.
As a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, I watched in pride as Mayor Julian Castro told his story to the nation. It was a moving tribute to his family and an American system that rewards hard work and sacrifice. "The American dream," he said, "is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay."
The mayor's broader theme - a theme that echoed throughout the convention - was about opportunity. It's impossible to win any race if you're denied a spot at the starting line.
There were inspiring stories at the Republican Convention as well. In fact, I was struck by the similarities of some the Republican and Democratic themes - patriotism, hard work, self-reliance, love of freedom, the importance of the family, and America's unique status as the best nation to pursue your dreams.
But as Mayor Castro pointed out, the American dream can't just be reserved for those who are already living it, for those who can borrow money from their parents to start a business.
That is why the overarching theme of the convention, and the core of President Obama's acceptance speech, was about opportunity for all Americans.
This conviction - that public policies must ensure that everyone has at least a chance to succeed - marked the clearest difference between the fundamental approach to government presented at both conventions. And it should be the overarching theme of the 83th Texas Legislature that convenes in January.
Looking ahead to the session, the 12-member Select Committee on Economic Development had its inaugural meeting in Austin this week. This panel of business leaders and lawmakers was created to review the state's economic development programs and make recommendations for legislative solutions.
The message from that meeting: Texas may be one of the top job-creating states right now, but that will be endangered if we don't seriously address long-term problems in education, transportation, water, and health care.
Of all these issues, education, in particular, must be a priority in the next session - not the target of devastating budget cuts. The Legislature must ensure that all Texas children have access to a good education. That is the beginning of opportunity; the clearest path to the starting line.
Senator Carlos Uresti represents State Senate District 19, which is based in San Antonio but stretches west. The Democrat was first elected to the Senate in 2006 after nine years in the Texas House.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will address the DNC shortly after 9 P.M. tonight. He'll be introduced by his twin brother, Texas State Rep. Joaquin Castro, who's a lock to become a new Texas congressman in November.
Castro, 38, is a very popular mayor - he was re-elected last year with 82% of the vote. He's built a reputation on standing by his convictions and pushing hard for the policies he supports. Since June, Castro has been pushing for a 1/8 cent sales tax to fund full-day Pre-K for low-income students. A voter referendum on the issue will appear on the ballot in November. As our own Joe Deshotel explained, the tax "will raise an estimated $29 million dollars at about $7.81 per household annually and serve roughly 4,500 4 year olds."
Castro is a rare Democrat unfazed by Republican intimidation, refusing to beat around the bush about his views. On abortion, Castro told the New York Times that "The pope and I disagree on this one." He also credits smart affirmative action with his admission to Stanford University as an undergrad. "I'm a strong supporter of affirmative action because I've seen it work in my own life," he said recently. The New York Times Magazine's 2010 profile of Castro is a worthy read.
The Democrats were very smart to pick Castro. He's a New Democrat - but not the watered down, Republican-lite New Democrat that Bill Clinton often tried to be in the 1990's. So far, Castro appears to be a truly, proudly progressive Democrat. That's the kind of Democrat that will win moving forward.
Watch Castro's speech closely tonight. It could foreshadow great things for Texas - and the nation - in the not-so-distant future.
Today the DNC announced that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will deliver the keynote address Sept. 4th at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Currently the youngest mayor of a major US city, he will be the first hispanic to deliver the speech and it comes in a year when the Latino vote is expected to make a great impact in swing states particularly Colorado and Florida. In 2004 Barack Obama used this same opportunity to enter the national stage suggesting that Castro is not only being considered the future of the Texas Democratic party but the national party as well. The last Texan to deliver the keynote address was Ann Richards in 1988.
His twin brother Joaquin will enter Congress next year and both are thought to have bright political futures ahead of them. Castro has indicated that he plans to remain in the Mayor's office until 2017 but after delivering an inspiring speech at the Texas Democratic Party state convention in Houston earlier this summer many Democrats don't intend to wait that long before pressuring him to run for federal or statewide office. One example of his leadership came earlier this year when amid state and national conversations about budget cuts the Mayor actually proposed a tax increase to fund Pre-K for low income children in San Antonio.
Today is election day and Texan's will have an opportunity to send the first hispanic ever to represent Texas in the US Senate- as a Republican. Ted Cruz, positioning himself as a darling of the Tea Party is thought to be more radical and possibly easier to defeat in the next cycle over more moderate Dewhurst. Either candidate is likely to face and predicted to beat an underfunded Paul Sadler in the Nov. general election. As the demographics continue to shift in Texas it may actually become more difficult to unseat an incumbent hispanic particularly if he evolves into a more mainstream politician as Dewhurst suggests with his "D.C. PAC Man" and "TeDCruz" ads.
Democrats may lose the honor of electing the first hispanic Senator from Texas but some see an opportunity in the future to elect the first hispanic President. Earlier this month at a fundraiser in San Antonio President Obama said, "You're not considered one of the battleground states, although that's going to be changing soon,". Could this have been foreshadowing of the role the Castros might play in that trasnformation? In today's video announcement Mayor Castro said, "Being the keynote speaker this year is an honor I don't take lightly. I know Ive got some big shoes to fill. Two conventions ago the keynote speaker was a guy named Barack Obama. I remember watching his speech in 2004 and being inspired."
At the State Democratic Convention in Houston, Texas Democrats elected their Democratic National Committee members for the next four-year term, starting in September at the National Convention in Charlotte.
Most of Texas' DNC members will be holdovers from the current term, but four are new: Glen Maxey, Katie Naranjo, Senator Jose Rodriguez, and Lenora Sorola-Pohlman.
These people represent Texas within the national Democratic Party, and their input affects the direction that Democrats go nationwide. If the national party ever recognizes the importance of Texas (that, for instance, turning Texas blue will create a permanent shift in presidential elections), it might start in the DNC. So, these representatives are important activists that can actually make a difference within the party.
Maxey and Naranjo won spots that traditionally go to members of the GLBT and Youth demographics, respectively. Maxey is taking over for Sue Lovell, who is stepping aside after many years at the post. Naranjo replaces another Austinite, Rick Cofer.
Read more below the fold to acquaint yourself with these two new DNC members!
The Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus (TSDC) Executive Board voted to endorse openly gay former State Representative Glen Maxey for an open seat on the Democratic National Committee (DNC). If elected at the state convention in June, Maxey will succeed openly lesbian former Houston City Councilwoman Sue Lovell, who has held this seat for many years. Lovell announced earlier this year that she was not seeking re-election for another term on the DNC.
Maxey is one of two candidates who have announced for this seat. The other candidate, Zephaniah "Zeph" Capo of Houston, is a current member of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) from Senate District 15. Like Maxey, Capo is openly gay and is a public school teacher who is actively involved with the labor union movement.
Both candidates were asked to complete a candidate questionnaire and to participate in separate telephone interviews with members of the TSDC Executive Board. Following the candidate interviews, Board members voted 19-3 to endorse Maxey.
There are ten (10) DNC seats from Texas that are elected by the delegates to the Texas Democratic Convention every four years. They are divided evenly by gender. Two of the seats are designated to represent African-Americans, two for Hispanics, one for non-urban areas of the state and one for labor. The other four (4) seats are considered "at large" seats, although one of them is generally regarded as a seat for youth, another for LGBT and the other two are divided by gender as at-large seats. The DNC Chair also has the discretion to appoint other Texans to the DNC.
Although the DNC seat currently held by Lovell is not "officially" designated an LGBT seat, Maxey intends to make that his goal if he is elected at the State Democratic Convention, which takes place on June 7-9 in Houston. Recently elected President of Stonewall Democrats of Austin, Maxey believes that "it is imperative that the DNC have openly gay, fearless leaders" and "I shall continue to be one". He is also committed to working with the newly elected State Democratic Party Chair to "rebuild the Texas Democratic Party from the ground up" and to focus on unregistered voters and registered voters who do not vote, because "those folks are our folks". Texas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the nation.
The TSDC is the official LGBT Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party and has approximately 1,000 dues-paying members from Stonewall Democrats chapters in Austin, Dallas, Denton County, El Paso, Houston, the lower Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Tarrant County.
In the midst of Barack Obama's visit to Texas on Monday, seemingly under reported was his Austin fundraiser. According to Sen. Rodney Ellis, the total raised for the DNC and affiliated groups was just shy of $1 million.
@RodneyEllis: Texans gave 985,000 dollars for this event with the President.
Democratic Lt. Governor nominee Linda Chavez-Thomson introduced the President at the fundraiser but refused to shake his hand... opting instead for a "warm abrazo" (hug), labor style. She didn't shy away from President, introducing him with the following comments.
"He's taken on the economy. He's taken on health care. He's taken on Wall Street. And he doesn't back down.
What he does do, and Texans respect this, is extend his hand across the aisle in a spirit of bi-partisanship. After all, the challenges Americans and Texas families face don 't come with a Party label on them.
But when his offer is not reciprocated, he does what any Texan would do. He does the work himself, because at the end of the day the work still has to get done.
There's nothing brave about ignoring problems. We had eight years of that. Bravery is going out in the hot sun and doing the hard work it takes to make things grow.
And that's coming from the daughter of a cotton sharecropper, so I know what I'm talking about."
The DNC has stated they will be sending $250,000 of the money raised in Texas back to Texas. Personally, I'm hoping that money gets spent on candidates who stood with the President like Chavez-Thompson. After all, we wouldn't want to associate money raised by Obama for the DNC with candidates who wanted to separate themselves from the event. But in case that doesn't happen, you can donate to Chavez-Thompson here.
The Statesman's Jason Embry reports that President Barack Obama will headline August 9 fundraisers in Austin and Houston for the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, respectively.
The event in Austin is "tentatively scheduled" for the Four Seasons with tickets starting at $5000 a person.
Bill White spokesperson Katy Bacon told the Statesman that White "had no plans to attend" either events and said instead "Bill will be talking with Texans about the future of our state." Some will try to twist this into a negative, but White is doing exactly what he should do: focus on his state and his race.
That presents a clear contrast with Rick Perry, who most recently appeared with the national Republican Party's most sought after campaigner, Sarah Palin, in Tyler on June 28. After going on sixteen years of governors who are eager to make their mark on national politics and ignore problems here in Texas, it is time we had a governor whose top priority is the future of Texas, not posturing for higher office.