Budowsky: Biden or Beto: Where's the beef?
Democrats have a chance of beating Trump with Julian Castro on the 2020 ticket
Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro has an interesting story to tell and an impressive resume to sell.
Castro is the hero of the classic immigrant tale. His grandmother came to the United States from Mexico and worked as a maid, cook and babysitter. He was born in San Antonio in 1974 and earned his undergraduate degree at Stanford University and a law degree at Harvard.
He was elected Mayor of San Antonio in 2009 at the age of 35. He served as mayor for five years until he became Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama. In 2012, Mayor Castro established himself in the national political scene as the first Latino to give the keynote address at a national political convention.
Politics runs in his family. His mother Maria founded La Raza Unida political party in San Antonio and his twin brother Joaquin represents San Antonio in the U.S. House of Representatives.
At the tender age of 44, Julian Castro is a serious and credible candidate for president of the United States. Besides his obvious appeal to Hispanic voters, Castro could appeal to the growing number of millennial Democrats. This could tip the scales in a race against 70-somethings Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden, who are the frontrunners in polls so far although they haven't launched presidential bids.
Castro could smooth the painful racial and generational transition that America is undergoing. Millennials and non-white Americans are replacing baby boomers and Anglos as the dominant forces in our society.
Castro made this point earlier this month when he formally announced his candidacy. "I'm running for president because it's time for new leadership. Because it's time for new energy. And it's a time for a new commitment to make sure the opportunities I've had are available for every American."
A niche in a crowded primary means developing a unique selling proposition and identifying a target audience for your message. In a Democratic primary, the targets often are identity groups that are part of what Obama called "the ascending Democratic coalition" of millennials, minority voters and women.
Hispanics are the fastest growing big block of power in the Democratic Party. Key to Castro's strategy to winning his party's nomination is the fact that Latinos are a major force in three states, California, Texas and Nevada that select delegates early in the nomination process. Latinos will constitute approximately a third of the Democratic primary voters in California and Texas and a fifth of the caucus attendees in Nevada.
Candidate Castro may have tough competition with Beto O'Rourke in Texas and will have to fight in California against Sen. Kamala Harris. But if he catches on with Hispanic voters in those states, he may pick up enough delegates at the beginning of the process to be a major player throughout the long nomination marathon.
See you in November
In 2016, Hillary Clinton gave Castro, then-HUD secretary, serious consideration as her running mate after she secured her party's nomination for president. So it wouldn't be much of a surprise for his name to show up somewhere on the Democratic national ticket in 2020.
Politically, Castro's presence on the ticket in either the first or second slot would be a significant political asset in the quest to deny President Trump a second term. The Latino vote in the Southwest is growing by leaps and bounds. Trump's racism and population trends have made Latinos the key to improving the prospects for a Democratic candidate to win the electoral votes of Texas and Arizona.
Hispanic turnout was a major factor in Democratic congressional midterm wins in Texas and Arizona. In the Lone Star State, three in 10 (30 percent) of the midterm voters were Latino. About a quarter (23 percent) of the electorate in Arizona was Hispanic.
The national network exit polls indicated that approximately one in four (27 percent) of the Hispanics who voted in 2018 were first time participants in the electoral process. It's not much of a stretch to think that the presence of a Latino, like Castro on the Democratic national ticket could boost Hispanic turnout even higher especially in Texas.
It's difficult to imagine Trump's re-election without Texas' 38 votes in the Electoral College. The GOP is already in trouble in Texas and a surge in Latino turnout could be the coup de grace. Not only did former congressman O'Rourke come so close to beating the GOP incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in U.S. Senate race - but Democratic candidates flipped two U.S. House seats and won a number of elected local judicial posts away from Republicans.
If Castro was on the Democratic ticket in 2020, Trump would go to town on his opponent's Mexican ancestry. But any attempt from the president to rally his base with racist attacks is a bad strategy. Only a fifth (21 percent) of 2018 midterm voters picked immigration as their biggest motivation. Twice as many midterm voters identified health care as their biggest concern and they supported Democratic House candidates by a three to one margin.
Demography is destiny. The Latino and Asian populations in the U.S. are growing much faster than the Anglo population. The U.S. Census Bureau has estimated that the population of the U.S. will be majority non-white by 2044. So easing the transition to a true multi-racial society should be a priority for the next president. Trump has tried to reverse the progress America made toward racial harmony under Obama. Julian Castro could reverse the Trump tide and move the nation forward again.