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Draft Julian?

Who wants to see Julian Castro run for Governor in 2014? His fellow Bexar County Democrats, at least.

Mayor Julian Castro

Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Manuel Medina launched a social media movement last week to draft Castro for the 2014 Texas governor’s race.

Medina, who unseated former party Chairwoman Choco Meza in May, describes the push as an attempt to capitalize on Castro’s ascendant national profile and create grass-roots momentum for a Castro candidacy.

“This was our (party) initiative, 100 percent, because we believe he’s the future of the state,” said Medina, a native of Mexico who runs a lucrative polling company in Panama.

Medina said the idea was hatched by local Democratic Party precinct chairs. The party chairman unveiled a “draft Castro” website (, Facebook page, and Twitter account on Oct. 9.

That night, he introduced the draft campaign to the party’s County Executive Committee, and says it was greeted with “thunderous applause” by committee members.

Dante Small, a committee member and president of the Bexar County Young Democrats, said party members are excited at the mere suggestion of a Castro gubernatorial campaign.

“Having him run for governor would galvanize Democrats and Latino voters in this state,” Small said.

Whether you like Henry or Cecile, you have to admit this is intriguing. Burka makes his usual argument that the state will not be Democratic enough by 2014. I’d like to see what this year’s results look like before I draw any conclusions about 2014, but it’s hard to argue anyway. For his own part, Castro has been pretty consistent about wanting to serve as Mayor of San Antonio through 2017, when he would be term-limited out. Again, hard to argue with that.

But there are two things I’d like to note for your consideration. One is that it’s awfully hard to tell what might happen in a future election year, and that prognostications more than a cycle away are completely useless. Sure, Texas is highly likely to be more Democratic in 2018 than it is in 2014, but who knows who might be on the Republican ticket that year, and who knows what kind of evolution may have taken place in the GOP by then. Put it this way: Would you rather run against Rick Perry in 2014, or some unknown person in 2018? Maybe that person would be George P. Bush or some other golden child/rising star that you don’t see coming and could go toe to toe in the charisma/buzz department with anyone? Sure, Rick Perry might not run in 2014, and if he does run he might get taken out in the primary by Greg Abbott. Last I checked, life came with no guarantees. Point is, that’s as true for 2018 as it is for 2014.

Item two is Castro’s stated desire to serve as Mayor of San Antonio through 2017 if the voters there will have him. It’s admirable that he wants to finish the job that he sees before him, but I am reminded of the case of the last Mayor with statewide ambitions: Bill White. I know some people who thought White should have run for Governor in 2006, after his first term and runaway re-election as Mayor of Houston. At the time, I thought that was crazy. White had made a promise to the voters of Houston, and breaking it would surely be used against him. He had a job to do here, and still had four years in which to do it. Surely he could run in 2010, when things would be more favorable to the Dems than 2006, right? We know how that turned out. In retrospect, I have to think that White could have beaten Perry in 2006. Forty percent of the vote would have done it, and surely White could have raised the money to bring out or hold together enough of the Democratic vote to win. I mean, Democratic Land Commissioner candidate Valinda Hathcox got more votes than Perry did. But more than that, most of White’s main accomplishments as Mayor came in his first term. Even more so, the main bad thing that happened during White’s tenure, the murder of HPD officer Rodney Johnson by an undocumented immigrant, happened after his first term. That’s one attack ad that could not have been run against him had he run in 2006. I’m fully aware that hindsight is 20-20. All I’m saying here is that “finishing the job” may not be a positive factor in the end. You can’t be sure that what is to come later will be better than what’s coming next. It’s a leap of faith no matter how you look at it. I have no idea what the right answer for Julian Castro will be. I just wish him well in deciding it for himself.

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  1. RBearSAT says:

    Charles some comments on this from a San Antonio politico.

    First, I can tell you who will be on the ballot on the Republican side, or at least who the major players will be. Perry and Abbott. Perry may be coerced into not running but, as you point out, it really depends on how things play out, especially during the next session. Abbott is definitely gunning for governor. We’ll know the answer in June, provided we’re not in a special session.

    Secondly, unless Texas starts turning out Hispanic voters, the turn of purple, much less blue, may be a good five years later than 2018. While Hispanics poll well for Democrats, they have the most abysmal turnouts I’ve ever seen. Only Asian-Americans turn out worse when it comes time to vote. So Castro staying through his full four two-year terms could allow him to set up for the next race, which I predict will be a challenge to Cruz rather than governor. I would prefer to see a down ballot statewide challenge by a Democrat, possibly comptroller, to start the momentum.

    Finally, Medina’s little folly is just that, a little folly. He’s underperforming her in Bexar County when it comes to voter turnout. We’re spending big dollars for an office, a call center and a lot of stuff with the same poor turnout results we’ve seen before. Brian Chasnoff wrote a column about it today, calling it “Dadaism.” As Chasnoff points out, the mayor is not too happy about the effort because it detracts from the pre-K initiative push. In other words, Medina pulled a bone-head move launching this now and not waiting until after the election.

  2. cb says:

    It is too early to be name dropping (Cecile Richards!) for the next gubernatorial election but by some point in the summer of 2013 it would be great if one or two notable Democrats decide to challenge Abbott.