The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was created in 1965 under LBJ’s Great Society entitlement scheme, just as Henry Cisneros was in his sophomore year at Texas A&M. It would be another 9 years before Julian Castro (and his twin Joaquin) would be born in Cisnero´s hometown of San Antonio. Both Cisneros and Julian Castro would hold the mayor’s office in San Antonio before moving up to Washington to take the job of Cabinet Secretary at HUD. Cisneros took a while to get there; he was well into his forties by the time he got the job. Julian Castro is still – barely – in his thirties, and by all accounts, HUD will not be his last stop in Washington, unlike Cisneros who after a scandal with a former mistress was forced to resign. We haven’t seen such excitement in a while from Democrats over someone who might be a VP candidate in 2016. Obama himself welcomed him to the job at HUD and now he’s had his swearing-in ceremony with Joe Biden whose job many Democrats are hoping he will take.

Why? A Hillary-Julian ticket is the perfect identity-politics pairing for many Dems. If the marriage seems a little May-September at first blush, it will be up to Julian to prove he belongs on the podium. So who is he? Or more to the point, what has he done for voters lately? San Antonio has a council-manager system of government where the mayor’s office is largely ceremonial. That means you have to look back at Castro’s record as a council member. That mostly means his being part of the council that lured Toyota and several parts suppliers to the San Antonio area. Of course, that would have had a lot to do with the State of Texas and the tax-friendly environment provided to corporations by state laws. They say the Riverwalk expansion is a very nice addition to the city but that mostly comes from Castro’s predecessor in the mayor’s job, Phil Hardberger who left office with an 86% approval rating.

In other words, the main thing about Julian Castro is that he’s … Julian Castro; a bright – he got into Stanford with a little help from affirmative action – young – he’s almost forty – hispanic american politician who believes in affirmative action and gay rights. He’s a Texas progressive with a very short list of tangible accomplishments. How will he do at HUD? He’s got a slow, make that really slow, housing recovery in his favor – for now at least. Will he handle beltway politics well? He already has had the principal and the vice principal give him pats on the head (and you can throw in a well publicized meeting with Harry Reid as well). Do any of his fellow Democrats want to take him out behind the swings and work him over? One suspects we’ll find out fairly quickly how adeptly Julian Castro manages to survive in Washington. 2016 is a long way away in the beltway calendar.

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