Local Democrats are more optimistic. They see a tough environment for Republicans, thanks in part to Donald Trump's early woes . . . They also believe the state's steady demographic changes are nudging the state blue . . .
We Say: To say the National Democratic Party is in disarray is an understatement. They’ve been squandering precious weeks and months trying to replay the Presidential election and undo President Trump’s victory.
For that matter, the establishment Republicans have been doing much the same.
What the Democrats desperately need is a fresh young face, preferably Hispanic, an articulate politician with a record of success from a big state that can catch the imagination of the young voters.
Turns out they have two.
Republished from Politico.com, by Edward-Isaac Dovere, August 24, 2017. Image credit: patdollard.com / not covered by license. Contributor: Donald Krebs.
Texas Democrats desperately want Rep. Joaquín Castro to run for governor next year — and they’re frustrated by what they see as his twin brother’s presidential ambitions getting in the way.
The congressman’s decision as to whether to run against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is caught up in the Castro brothers’ unique mix of their deep personal connection and parallel political ambitions. Joaquín Castro is being hounded by Democrats to get in but is torn, according to people who’ve spoken with him, over whether to take on a popular incumbent with $40 million in the bank.
That’s where his identical twin brother, Julián Castro, comes in. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary and 2012 Democratic convention speaker recently launched a PAC and is spending the fall writing an autobiographical, campaign-style book, and has made his interest in 2020 clear.
The brothers serve as each other’s top strategists, and they’ve agreed that Julián’s next political move takes primacy for now. One worry is that a Joaquín loss for governor — it would be an uphill battle, at best, against Abbott — would make the Castros look like losers. The other is that if Joaquin happened to pull off an upset, it would distract attention from Julián, potentially complicating his path to the White House.
Julián has talked to many people about the lack of national Democratic figures to channel the rising power of Latinos, and how well-positioned he believes he is to occupy that space. But he, too, would also be a long shot if he were to run for president in 2020.
Though Joaquín Castro is seen as unlikely to go through with it, last month Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez spoke with the congressman and encouraged him to run for governor, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Several members of the Texas House delegation have also urged him to take the leap.
Both Castros are famously cautious.
“No matter what, I think Joaquín wants to do everything possible that Julián is in the best possible position to move forward with his plans,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the Texas Democratic chairman, who’s eager to see the congressman jump in against Abbott.
Hinojosa and other Texas Democrats have talked to the congressman about running. State party officials reached out to operatives in Washington last week to help in the recruitment effort, according to people involved in the conversations.
Joaquín Castro isn’t just seen as the strongest potential candidate — 15 months out from the election, Democrats have literally no one else. The race is seen as such a long shot that national Democrats haven’t put much thought into trying to find a candidate, who they believe would likely only drain resources from other more winnable races.
Local Democrats are more optimistic. They see a tough environment for Republicans, thanks in part to Donald Trump’s early woes. They’re heartened by Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s challenge to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. They also believe the state’s steady demographic changes are nudging the state blue, though there’s no electoral evidence of it to date (Hillary Clinton did beat Donald Trump in three Republican-held congressional districts).
As for Joaquin, Democrats say he’s the only one who would bring a record on issues, generate excitement on the trail, boast support from establishment Democrats and big national donors, and turn out the state’s enormous Latino population. That could be enough, they argue, to get within range of making Abbott vulnerable.
“He has been a rock-solid leader on economic issues,” said Jeff Rotkoff, the campaigns director at the Texas AFL-CIO. “If he so chose, he’d be a very powerful messenger.”
In private conversations, Castro talks about how “the normal calculus” of politics has been scrambled by Trump. Does that mean he passes on a race because the work in Congress feels too compelling to give up, especially with the speculation that Democrats have an outside shot at winning the House next year? Or does it mean deciding what’s happening in Washington and Austin is too disconcerting to not at least try to beat Abbott next year if only to begin laying the groundwork for a multi-cycle campaign for the governor’s job?
“He’d have a lot to consider on that,” said Chris Turner, the leader of the Texas state House Democrats. “He’s going to do what’s best for Texas and the country.”
Through a spokesman, Joaquín Castro declined to comment, and Julián Castro did not respond to an effort to reach him directly.
But at a news conference in Austin last week, the congressman joined state legislators blasting Abbott and the GOP for their just-concluded monthlong special session. When asked whether he’d run, Joaquin Castro left open the option in a way that people familiar with his response say was deliberate.
“It’s my intention right now to run for reelection. If that changes, I’ll let you know,” he said, according to people present.
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