The hot rumor going around is that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is being vetted for a Cabinet position in the Obama administration.
For the second time in two years, President Barack Obama has offered Julián Castro a chance to serve in his Cabinet, and the mayor has signaled his willingness to begin a swift process of confirmation to the post, knowledgeable sources say.
The process includes a vetting of Castro by the FBI — which has begun — and a Senate confirmation hearing, expected to conclude within months.
Castro, whose mayoral tenure thrust him into the national spotlight, refused to comment Friday. It was unclear what post the president has offered the Democratic stalwart.
Castro’s departure from San Antonio for the nation’s capital, where he would join his twin, Rep. Joaquin Castro, would come five years after he first was elected mayor, and one year before he could run for re-election to a final two-year term at City Hall.
Obama gauged Castro’s interest in serving as transportation secretary last year, but the mayor declined.
Publicly, Castro has said he plans to serve as mayor here as long as the voters would have him. In private conversations, though, he’s said an offer from the president to serve as education secretary would have proven tougher to turn down.
Also tough to turn down is a chance to run as nominee for vice president alongside Hillary Clinton.
The president’s offer last year for Castro to join his Cabinet was poor timing: The mayor was on the cusp of seeking re-election to a third term at City Hall.
Former Mayor Henry Cisneros, a mentor to Castro who accepted an offer to join President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet after his own mayoral tenure, disapproved at the time of Castro’s decision.
Cisneros served as secretary of housing and urban development from 1993 to 1997 and was interviewed for a spot on Walter Mondale’s ticket in 1984. Mondale opted, though, for the first female nominee, Geraldine Ferraro.
“I advised that he accept a position for President Obama,” Cisneros told the New York Times. “I thought that if he was going to be vice presidential material in 2016, then he needed to be more than mayor at that time.”
President Obama intends to choose Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio as the secretary of housing and urban development in a cabinet reshuffling, according to Democrats informed about the plans.
Mr. Castro, who has often been mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate for the Democrats, would take the place of Shaun Donovan, who would move to head the Office of Management and Budget. That job is being vacated by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whom Mr. Obama has nominated as secretary of health and human services.
The White House refused to comment. But the president’s move to elevate a high-profile Hispanic official to his cabinet comes as his attempt to push an immigration overhaul through Congress appears to be stymied and as he considers easing the number of deportations of illegal immigrants.
That would appear to be that. We’ll see how his confirmation hearings go. After his recent debate with Dan Patrick, I can only imagine the grandstanding and petty point-scoring opportunities there will be for Ted Cruz.
Naturally, this appointment has everyone thinking of the future. Does this increase the odds of Castro being on the ticket with Hillary Clinton in 2016? I’m going to say maybe a little, since at least it will give the DC insiders a chance to scope him out and render an opinion that’s microscopically better informed than what they would have about him otherwise. On the other hand, HUD isn’t exactly a high-profile position – like being an NFL lineman or a baseball umpire, one mostly gets noticed as HUD Secretary when one screws up – and the VP speculation game is almost entirely a bunch of blather anyway. Hillary, if she runs, will pick who she wants; the rest of us are just nattering for the sake of being heard.
Of more immediate interest is who would succeed Castro as Mayor of San Antonio. The Rivard Report gives a bit of background on that.
The news has upended San Antonio politics like no other time in memory, setting off a scramble on City Council, whose 10 members will decide for themselves who will serve as mayor for the rest of Castro’s unexpired third term.The mayor does not get to vote on his successor. In theory, the Council could nominate a non-Council member to serve out the term, but that would not happen unless a prolonged deadlock prevented a council member from winning a majority of six votes.
Another story to be posted on the Rivard Report will look at the likely candidates who want to succeed Castro as mayor for here, and how the votes might fall in the scramble.
Castro’s decision will lead many to say he is putting his own political ambitions ahead of his promise to remain mayor of San Antonio “as long as the voters will have me,” which he has stated on the Rivard Report in the past when speculation arose about him joining a re-elected President Obama for a second term cabinet post.
Here’s that subsequent story. I don’t know the players in San Antonio, so I have no idea how that will play out. As far as the “putting his own political ambitions ahead of his promise to remain mayor of San Antonio” bit goes, well yeah, he is doing that. So would 99.9% of anyone else in that position. The question is whether people perceive him as sniffing around and begging for whatever happens to come up, or if they think he was just in the right place at the right time when a great opportunity presented itself. I’m sure we’ll know more about that soon enough. Wonkblog has more.