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The case for Julian Castro as the 2020 Democratic nominee

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Julian Castro has all the makings of a classic politician. 

He is Stanford and Harvard educated. He is a political prodigy, having been elected to San Antonio City Council at the tender age of 26. He knows the inner-workings of Washington having been a high ranking member of the previous presidential cabinet. He’s been relatively quiet and been scandal free aside from a minor violation of the Hatch Act. However , in our current political climate these would seem to be his undoing.

America wants flamboyant outsiders who can keep our attention. With the Trump presidency on the ropes for what some allege is an improper relationship with the Russia, the next candidate for president is of the utmost importance. Many on the left are calling for Elizabeth Warren.  While all eyes are on Warren and she has become the energetic moral compass of the Democratic Party, Castro gives the Democrats the best chance to win in 2020.

Trump won because he was the anti-Obama in every way. While Obama carefully navigated the press, Trump antagonized them. While Obama tried to be inclusive,Trump marketed himself as a builder of walls. 

{mosads}Castro is the perfect person to market himself as the Anti-Trump. While President Trump and his administration target immigrants, Castro can say he is an American born descendant of immigrants and a friend to those communities. His Mexican-American heritage and activist parents help him in Arizona and in Florida. Meanwhile, Warren’s ethnicity and heritage has become point of ridicule, as she claimed to be Native American but but has difficulty proving it.


While the a large portion of the Cuban American community turned against Clinton, the increasing number of Puerto Ricans in Florida favors Castro in 2020

Texas could eventually swing toward Democrats, and could do so with a compelling candidate.  Warren being a leftist from Massachusetts is not going to change the vote in the Lone Star state. Castro, a wildly popular mayor and native San Antonian could very well change the shade of Texas by convincing moderate Republican Latinos to vote for him.

Castro is a youthful and seemingly healthy 42 year old, something that dogged Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. Trump will be 74 in 2020, and questions about his energy level could soon arise after being worn down by 4 year of a presidential schedule. Ditto for Bernie Sanders, who some see as the heir apparent within the Democratic Party. 

Sanders and Warren also have a paper trail behind them in the form of a voting record in the Senate.

Castro however, has no voting record to be manipulated and seemingly less political baggage.  Our last four presidents have had no or in the case of President Obama, very limited voting records. Challengers with voting records tend to lose, like in the case of senators Bob Dole, John Kerry, John McCain, and Sec. Hillary Clinton. In addition, the Democrats cannot to afford to risk losing Warren’s senate seat.

Julian Castro’s silence, particularly now, is a virtue. Twitter wars with the president don’t bode well for politicians. Warren has over-exposed herself as an attack dog for Clinton and thus, put herself in the crosshairs of the GOP.

They are strategizing against her at this very moment, just as they did for Secretary Clinton. Mr. Castro’s best bet is to leave the lampooning to Saturday Night Live, Bill Maher, Jimmy Fallon and the rest of the professionals. 

Right now, Castro should be spending time in African American churches and barbershops in Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and in the state of North Carolina. He needs to galvanize the loyal Democratic base that was unmotivated to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. He should be headed to Wisconsin to meet with teachers unions and coal miners in West Virginia. His being based in Texas is another major asset.

Mostly, he needs to meet with Warren and convince her that it is not in the party’s best interest that she run. Warren running versus Castro sets up another tiring Sanders/Clinton scenario and the former is too closely associated with Hillary Clinton’s historic campaign failure. 

In the meantime, Democrats need to continue to develop female candidates so one will be in position to crack the glass ceiling covering the presidency.

Jason Nichols, Ph.D. is a full time faculty member in the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland College Park. His writing has appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags 2020 Bernie Sanders Democrats DNC Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton John Kerry John McCain Julián Castro presidential election

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