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Henry Cisneros

Oakland Raiders to San Antonio?

There’s more than one Oakland-based sports team that’s been scoping out San Antonio as a possible place to relocate.

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis and two top lieutenants met recently with several San Antonio officials to discuss the potential of moving his NFL team from the Bay Area to the Alamo City, local leaders involved in the talks confirmed Tuesday.

On the weekend of July 18, Davis met with the officials, including Henry Cisneros, then-Mayor Julián Castro, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, Mario Hernandez of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and both Richard Perez and David McGee, the president and chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, respectively.

Late Tuesday, after the Express-News published a version of this story on its websites, Sculley issued a memo to the City Council.

“I was asked to meet two weeks ago with the owner of the Oakland Raiders, Mark Davis, and members of his staff. Mr. Davis has expressed interest in a possible relocation of his NFL team to San Antonio and we are engaged in preliminary due diligence,” she wrote. “The agenda for this visit included a tour of the Alamodome and meetings with local business leaders.”

Sculley wrote that those discussions were preliminary and confidential and that she would update the council as things progressed.

San Antonio has often been used as a bargaining chip for pro sports franchises trying to negotiate better deals in their own respective cities, but sources have characterized Davis’ interest in San Antonio to be at least somewhat more serious. He is clearly perturbed with his current situation in Oakland, where the team’s lease expires after the 2014-15 season.

Cisneros, who led the charge to build the Alamodome when he was mayor, has been described by sources as the architect of the meeting. His son-in-law, Brad Badger, is in corporate sponsorship sales for the Raiders.

[…]

With some upgrades, the Alamodome could be ready for a 2015-16 NFL season, though it would be a temporary home at best. NFL teams likely would need 100 suites, and the Alamodome currently has 52. It physically could facilitate the addition of 48 more, but funding has yet to be earmarked by the city for such upgrades.

If the Raiders moved here, though, Davis is expected to seek a new stadium within a few years, after the team had proved itself in the Alamo City.

Color me shocked by that. As we know, the Oakland A’s have sniffed around San Antonio lately. They share the same stadium as the Raiders and have had similar concerns about its condition and their lease, but they just re-upped for ten years (with an escape clause after two), so that would seem to be off the table for now. While I’ve argued that San Antonio isn’t really suitable for a Major League Baseball team, I don’t think they’d have any trouble selling out ten NFL games (counting two preseason ones). San Antonio hosted the New Orleans Saints in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina and there was some talk about the Saints staying there, but obviously that never happened. The main issue from the NFL’s perspective would be that San Antonio is a much smaller media market. Media market size is one reason why the NFL continues to be obsessed with putting a team back in Los Angeles, even by convoluted means. San Antonio makes for a nice bargaining chip, but for now at least it’s hard to see it as anything else.

There’s one more factor to consider:

NFL owners — including the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans — would have to vote on the deal.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has responded to an Express-News report that the Raiders are interested in relocating to San Antonio.

“San Antonio is very important to the Dallas Cowboys. We have the exact same percentage of fans in San Antonio as we do in Plano, Texas, about 98%. I don’t make a lot of this. At all.”

Jerry Jones is already saying that he would be an obstacle to any such relocation. The Raiders would need to get the support of 24 out of the 32 franchises to make the move, meaning that Jones would only need to convince eight of his buddies to vote No. (Texans owner Bob McNair seems to be more willing to accommodate the idea if it comes down to that.) So file this under “interesting stuff that will probably never amount to anything more” and let’s move on for now. Randy Harvey and the unequivocally negative Robert Rivard have more.

One more thing, from Trail Blazers:

Here’s a question: Gov. Rick Perry has spent millions luring businesses to Texas from his business-subsidy fund. If this is a real effort by Oakland to consider Texas as home for its NFL team, might the future governor — either Greg Abbott or Wendy Davis — be amenable to sweetening a deal if necessary to bring the Raiders to the Alamo City?

My personal answer is no, they shouldn’t. The NFL, its owners and franchises, they all have plenty of money. Especially given the likelihood of money being thrown at the Raiders for a new stadium, whether here or in Oakland or elsewhere, there’s no need to pour even more sugar on top of that.

Castro to DC?

The hot rumor going around is that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is being vetted for a Cabinet position in the Obama administration.

Mayor Julian Castro

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.”

Via the Trib, the Times confirms the rumors and names the Cabinet position.

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.

Davis says she’s not running for Governor next year

So much for that.

Sen. Wendy Davis

State Sen. Wendy Davis, who has emerged as one of the most visible Democrats in the Capitol this session, says she has no plans to run for governor in 2014, but will seek another term representing Fort Worth next year.

“I’m running for my Senate district in 2014, and hopefully earning the confidence of my community once again,” Davis said on Sunday’s edition of KXAN’s In Session, In-Depth.

Since capping the 2011 legislative session with a filibuster over an education bill, Davis has emerged as a rising star among Texas Democrats who’ve been shut out in statewide election for coming up on two decades. Since narrowly winning re-election in 2012, Davis has been front and center on several issues close to her party’s heart — including better funding for education and increased attention to social services needs.

This month, she was among only two senators to vote against the budget bill because she said it would do too little to reverse the deep cuts in school funding enacted two years ago when much of the state was still mired in the recession.

In her KXAN interview, conducted last week in the back lobby of the Senate chamber, Davis acknowledged that her profile has risen during her third legislative session.

“If I’m in the spotlight for supporting public education, I’m very proud to be there,” she said.

But she added that she does not intend to parlay that higher profile into a bid for higher office — even though there is no obvious Democrat in the wings to take on the entrenched GOP machine.

Davis also said it’s “too soon to tell” whether Democrats can mount a serious statewide challenge, even as several Republicans are jockeying for position in several races — from governor to lieutenant governor to land commissioner.

Click over for video of the interview with Sen. Davis plus several other interviews with legislators. It goes without saying that you can’t mount a serious challenge without a serious challenger. Of the people I’ve speculated about, some have already stated their intention to do something other than run for Governor next year. Those that have not yet taken themselves out of the running, at least as far as I know, include Sen. Rodney Ellis, Cecile Richards, and – I’m going to keep including him in my speculations until he specifically says he’s out – Henry Cisneros. I’m sure there are other people I could be speculating about as well. As for Sen. Davis, I can’t say I’m surprised by this. She will have a tough fight on her hands to win re-election next year, but it’s not as if running for Governor would have been a cakewalk. The status of her district is no longer in contention – both she and the state have taken the position that the interim map from 2012 is what they want going forward – so at least she knows what she’s getting into. She has my full support, and I continue to hope there will be someone at the top of the ticket to abet her efforts. Texpatriate has more.

Gubernatorial speculation: Mike Villarreal and Bill White

A few days back, BOR had a post about who was on deck for 2014, and the first two candidates they speculated about for Governor were two I had not talked about here before, State Rep. Mike Villarreal and 2010 candidate and former Houston Mayor Bill White. (They also listed State Sen. Kirk Watson, but in the comments it was noted that Watson drew a two-year term, meaning he’d have to choose between running for Governor and running for re-election. Having to make that choice in 2010 was one reason why Watson didn’t run for Governor then, so I doubt things would be different this time around.) That post led Express News columnist Gilbert Garcia to ask Villarreal about it.

Rep. Mike Villarreal

Over his 13 years in the Lege, Villarreal has never made a secret of his hunger for higher office, but he’s been one of many youngish Bexar County Democrats hamstrung by the party’s electoral bottleneck: patiently waiting for a coveted seat to open up or hoping they can wait out the state’s long-expected shift from Republican to Democratic.

In 2009, Villarreal contemplated a run for state comptroller, and he regularly thinks about the governor’s office. He said he was “tickled” by the Burnt Orange Report assessment but harbors questions about whether the timing is right for him. Nonetheless, you get the clear sense that he’s open to the idea.

“It’s hard not to think about it when you believe the guy who currently holds the office isn’t doing a respectable job,” said Villarreal, a smooth, articulate product of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

It’s equally hard to overstate the challenge that will await next year’s Democratic nominee for governor.

The entry fee for any credible, competitive general election run against Perry or Attorney General Greg Abbott, another likely GOP gubernatorial contender, looks to be at least $25 million. It’s a figure requiring a statewide network of deep-pocketed support that would be difficult for Villarreal — or most other Democratic hopefuls — to put together.

Also, next year’s Democratic nominee will need to inspire extremely high turnout levels, particularly among the 1 million Texas minority voters who turned out in 2008 but stayed home for the GOP tsunami of 2010.

Villarreal would be in the tough position of introducing himself to the great majority of Texas voters, who haven’t necessarily followed his aggressive crusades to beef up public education funding or reform the state’s standardized testing system.

A Villarreal gubernatorial battle plan would likely involve a five-year, two-cycle effort. That means accepting a near-sure defeat in 2014, with the thought that he can position himself at the front of the line in 2018, when the state’s growing Latino population theoretically starts to kick in for Democrats.

The fundraising challenge is real and it’s daunting, especially for someone who starts with a low profile as a State Rep – just ask Rick Noriega about that. Villarreal has $111K cash on hand as of January, which isn’t bad for a State Rep but doesn’t even amount to pocket change for a gubernatorial campaign. The one advantage that Villarreal would have over Noriega is that in a state race you’re not limited by federal campaign laws, meaning you can get bigger donations from individuals. But it’s still very hard work to raise the kind of money needed just to introduce yourself to millions of voters around the state, and if you don’t have a clear path to it, it’s damn near impossible. This is one reason why I’ve talked about folks like Henry Cisneros and Cecile Richards, who already have national profiles, and Rodney Ellis and Wendy Davis, who start out in a much stronger position to raise the needed resources. (Julian Castro also fits in there, but he’s ruled himself out for next year.) I think highly of Rep. Villarreal and I have no doubt that he has a ton of potential for bigger things, but it’s hard to see how he could make it work next year. Waiting for a future opportunity has got to be the better strategy for him.

As for Bill White, he’s maintained a very low profile since his 2010 loss to Perry. I’m sure that PPP poll has come to his attention, snd of course there is a Draft Bill White For Governor Facebook page, because why wouldn’t there be? Despite the wipeout of 2010, White drew enough crossover votes from Perry to make it clear that he could have won in a less hostile environment. He’d have more work to do against Greg Abbott, but Lord knows there’s no lack of material to work with, even without all the embarrassing “Oops!” moments. However, all this appears to be an academic exercise:

White ruled himself out of running for statewide office next year, when Perry and U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, are up for re-election.

That would seem to rule out a repeat candidacy, though I will note that this came from a story in which White was being critical of Perry and his job creation policies. The urge is still there, whether he wants to feed it or not. Be that as it may, I think we need to keep looking.

How about Ellis 2014?

Michael Hurta makes an observation.

The only Democratic legislator in Texas who is not up for reelection in 2014 yet also has seven figures in his campaign bank account is Rodney Ellis. Will we hear any Ellis for Governor rumors before session is done?

Sen. Rodney Ellis

You can see a copy of Sen. Ellis’ January report here. He has just over $2 million cash on hand, which isn’t exactly Greg Abbott territory but isn’t a bad place to start off, either. He has been in the Senate since winning a special election in 1990, but at least since I’ve been paying attention I can’t recall hearing any talk about him eyeing a run for something else. One opportunity he declined to take to move up was in 2004, when the DeLay re-redistricting effort transformed Chris Bell’s CD25 into the African-American majority CD09. Ellis was not up for election in 2004 but did not challenge the first-term Congressman Bell, who was ultimately defeated in the primary by now-Rep. Al Green, who had been a Justice of the Peace until then.

That may just mean he isn’t interested in a federal office. If so, 2014 is an opportunity for him since he would have had to give up his Senate seat to run in any of the three previous state election years. Personally, I have no idea if Sen. Ellis has even given this matter a moment’s thought, but hey, I can pass along out of the blue speculation as well as the next blogger, so there you go. As of now, Julian Castro has declared his non-candidacy for 2014, Sen. Wendy Davis is playing it coy, Henry Cisneros is almost certainly a figment of my imagination, and I have no idea if anyone has talked to Cecile Richards lately. May as well keep talking about possibilities till one of them becomes real. What do you think about this?

When, Wendy?

When will Sen. Wendy Davis run for statewide office?

Sen. Wendy Davis

Fortified by a convincing re-election victory, state Sen. Wendy Davis is resuming her role as a fierce critic of Republican-led education cuts as she enters her third regular session of the Legislature.

Political watchers say the session could set the stage for Davis to run for statewide office.

In a wide-ranging interview last week, the Fort Worth Democrat said one of her objectives is to reverse deep cuts in education and other services that she says were orchestrated by Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans during the 2011 session.

“If we continue on the track we are today, with the tremendous underfunding of public education and higher education, we are putting Texas on a path to fail,” she said.

Davis amassed Democratic star power by repelling a well-funded Republican assault in November and gaining a second term in her Tarrant County Senate seat.

Her defeat of then-Rep. Mark Shelton, a Fort Worth pediatrician endorsed by Perry and other Republican leaders, heightened speculation that she is on her way to a statewide political run, possibly in 2014.

“From the perspective of electability, she’s one of our top superstars in Texas,” said state Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, who believes that Davis is a potential candidate for governor, lieutenant governor or the U.S. Senate. “Her sensibility and approach to politics will just automatically propel her as a top candidate for statewide office.”

Davis has acknowledged an interest in moving up the political ladder but says her immediate focus is on working for District 10 and pushing a diverse legislative agenda in the 83rd Legislature, which will run until May 27.

I believe this is the interview they’re referring to. As the story notes, one likely factor in any decision Davis may make will come today, when Senators draw lots to see who has to run again in 2014 and who gets to wait till 2016. If Davis is in the latter group, she can run for something else in 2014 without having to give up her seat in the Senate unless she wins. If she draws the 2014 straw, however, she has to make a choice. That doesn’t necessarily mean she’d choose to stay where she is, but that seems the more likely possibility. This is one reason why Sen. Kirk Watson resisted suggestions that he run for Governor in 2010 – he was up for election that year.

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said a statewide run by Davis is “much more a matter of when rather than if.”

“I think since the early days of her tenure in the Legislature, she has been somebody that Democrats have looked at with high expectations,” he said.

I can’t say for certain until the updated district information is published by the Texas Legislative Council, but Davis may have been the only Dem in 2012 to win a district that was not carried by President Obama. That says something. There are other names out there for 2014 – Henry Cisneros, Cecile Richards, and Julian Castro have all been mentioned as possibilities, if only by me in Cisneros’ case – and like Julian Castro, Davis may decide that it isn’t her time yet. Which would be fair enough and totally understandable, but I’ll say again that there’s no guarantee that 2018 will be a better opportunity than 2014. It’s a leap of faith, and you can only hope to be ready for it.

Speaking of such things, via press release from Edinburg Politics, there is now a Republican not named Rick Perry or Greg Abbott who claims to be running for Governor next year.

South Texan Miriam Martínez, a renowned international journalist, small business owner, and the former 2012 Republican nominee for state representative, House District 41, on Monday, January 21, announced her plan to seek the March 2014 Republican nomination for Texas governor.

She said her campaign would focus on key issues, such as job creation, education, child support, and immigration. But she also emphasized the importance of the Republican Party having a candidate who is a woman and a minority to lead the top of the political ticket.

“I do not believe in discrimination. I just think it’s time for a woman to do the job.” said Martínez, a survivor of family violence. “I know how to take care of business. As a Mexican American woman, I can handle challenges and defeats. What I can’t handle is living a life of regret and asking myself, ‘What if?’”

Martinez got 38% of the vote in HD41. She also got 1,210 votes in the GOP primary for HD41. As the story noted, she originally announced for HD41 as a Democrat – I had her listed there for awhile on my 2012 Election page after finding her via Google while compiling candidate names – which one presumes would be used against her in the unlikely case that someone feels the need to attack her candidacy. One can be successful as a Democratic candidate in a low-profile primary with a Hispanic surname and not much else. In a high-profile Republican primary, I’m guessing that probably isn’t so. Be that as it may, you have to give her credit for having the gumption to jump into the race before either Perry or Abbott has publicly made up his mind.

UPDATE: According to Postcards, Davis drew a two-year term, meaning that she would have to run for re-election next year. That would seem to put a damper on her gubernatorial prospects, at least for now. But you never know.

Draft Cecile?

Nonsequiteuse looks ahead.

Cecile Richards

I hereby kick-off (or join, because maybe others have beat me to it since I’ve been in a deep wormhole this summer) THE DRAFT CECILE RICHARDS TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR OF TEXAS MOVEMENT.

She’s going to be speaking at the DNC, and we all know that spot at the podium sets people up for a pretty sweet trajectory. She’s tough, smart, and must be at least a full foot taller than Goodhair. She could send him into hiding with a single side-eye.

More than that, she’s a clear win on the compassion front. She understands what it takes to take care of the least among us. She gets that strong, healthy women mean strong, healthy families, and that translates directly into a strong, healthy economy and community.

And, in this time of legitimate rape and vaginal probes and kamikaze Komen, she knows how to capitalize on the zeitgeist and rake in the big bucks. I’m nothing if not practical: serious green is what it will take to turn Texas blue.

Planned Parenthood might not be ready to let her go, but consider what it would mean to accelerate the demographic shift in Texas politics. I know great women are standing in the wings who could carry on the proud tradition Cecile has become a part of, leading that institution.

I believe federal law now mandates that all such movements begin with a Facebook page. I personally have hopped on the Draft Henry bandwagon so I’ll leave that task to someone else, but I’ll be happy to give the page a Like once it’s up.

That said, I’d be delighted to see this happen. I’d suggest that the second thing to do, after the Facebook page, is to convince Ms. Richards and her family to move back to Texas, since she currently resides in New York, according to her Wikipedia page. Her roots are deep enough here to overcome that, but better sooner than later, you know?

One more thing I’d point out is this: In addition to the “serious green” that Nonsequiteuse mentions will be needed to run and win a gubernatorial campaign, the other thing that we really ought to be looking for is a candidate with some personality. The last Democratic candidate for Governor for whom the word “charismatic” would be on the short list of accurate adjectives was Cecile’s mother, Ann Richards, in 1994. That’s a long time to go without pizzazz. Henry Cisneros has it, Cecile Richards has it, Julian Castro has it if he ever decides to move up his time frame (2018 is such a long way off), maybe someone else besides them who could mount a campaign will have it. I’m hardly the first person to suggest such a quality – McBlogger, call your office – but after so many elections without it, it’s hard to see why we’d not want to be looking for it this time around. Surely having a bit of Elvis in our candidate would help with the green-raising as well. That’s the argument, now it’s time for some drafting. Who’s on board with this? See Sarah Killf’s well-timed post for more on Ms. Richards.

Waiting for Rick (and Greg, and David)

Ross Ramsey breaks out his crystal ball and looks ahead to the 2014 election.

Remember this: In his long history in state politics — closing in on three decades — [Rick] Perry has run for everything he said he was going to run for.

Given his history, the safest assumption is that Perry will be on the ballot again in 2014, running for governor. And if the Republicans lose the presidential election this year, he might really and truly be angling for the party’s nomination in 2016.

This makes a lot of Texans — and not just Democrats — slap their foreheads. They cannot believe anyone has been governor for this long, and some of them cannot believe Perry is the guy who is setting the record.

[…]

Perry is on the verge of serving as Texas governor longer than Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as president — a 12-year, 42-day run that the Texas governor will match at the beginning of February.

He attracts the same sort of grumbles that Roosevelt did, with opponents mumbling that he has been there for too long, that it is time for fresh ideas, that maybe the state should limit its chief executive’s time in office after all.

Others have lined up, gently. Attorney General Greg Abbott, by all accounts on good terms with Perry, has more than $12 million in his political account and has made it clear he would like to be the next governor. He does not want to repeat Hutchison’s mistake, but he is ambitious. Others are sniffing around, too, looking at jobs that might open up if Perry moves on. Like Abbott’s post.

None of those dreams come true unless the governor is bluffing about his plans.

Right now, as I look ahead to 2014, there are four things I think about that could dramatically affect what that election looks like.

1. Who’s running for what, GOP edition – A few months ago it was possible to imagine that every non-judicial state office up for election in 2014 would be open. Now, with Perry talking about another run for Governor and David Dewhurst potentially losing the Senate runoff, it’s possible to imagine that every non-judicial state office up for election in 2014 could once again have the incumbent running for it. Will any of the three Lite Guv wannabees that hold statewide office – Susan Combs, Todd Staples, Jerry Patterson – stay the course and take on Dewhurst if he loses in two weeks and decides he wants to stay where he is for another term? I think if Perry and Dewhurst stay put, then everyone else just might do the same. If nothing else, that ought to make the case for change in the 2014 election that much clearer.

2. Who’s running for what, Democratic edition – Where the GOP has more candidates than available offices, the Democrats have a nearly non-existent bench, and also have to scrape up a candidate to take on Big John Cornyn. It starts with the Governor’s office, where if San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro isn’t ready to take the plunge yet perhaps one of his predecessors could be persuaded. For Lite Guv, I’d love to see Sen. Wendy Davis take a crack at it, if she’s not in a position of having to run for re-election for her Senate seat. Beyond that, I got nothing. We’re potentially electing some exiting young members of Congress this year, but they’ll want to serve more than one term before thinking about moving up. I hope someone besides me is thinking about this.

3. Lawsuitpalooza – Redistricting preclearance. Voter ID preclearance. School finance. Down the line, possibly a SCOTUS challenge to the Voting Rights Act. In the next few months, courts will have the opportunity to wield an inordinate amount of influence over the 2014 elections. Really, we can’t begin to talk about how the 2014 elections may go until we have resolutions for these items, and one other.

4. The 2013 Legislative session – Regardless of how the school finance lawsuits shake out – ultimately, that will be up to the Supreme Court, and it won’t rule till some time in 2014, with action needed in 2015 – the Lege will have some big tasks to tackle. At its most basic, the revenue crisis is over, so the Lege will have to decide whether to restore some of the spending it so savagely cut in 2011 or sock it all away for a future crisis and fritter the rest away on tax cuts. Needless to say, what they do will shape the 2014 campaigns.

So anyway. You can keep an eye on what Perry and Abbott are up to and try to guess their next moves, for whatever good it might do. There’s a lot more to 2014 than that, and we’re still a long way off from having a clearer picture than we do right now.

Henry Cisneros

The Express News bring us an update on former San Antonio Mayor and onetime rising star Henry Cisneros.

Henry Cisneros

Henry Cisneros still talks about housing and urban development with passion, about the future of cities and the ways in which immigrant communities can help the country thrive. He still talks politics and remains involved with President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

But these days, the former San Antonio mayor and U.S. housing secretary also talks a lot about RADs, or radiation absorbed dosages, speaking in the same energetic, enthusiastic tone, as if explaining a new pension fund in which his company is investing.

It’s almost like he’s not talking about cancer.

His cancer.

Cisneros, who turned 65 last week and just published a book about aging, is fighting prostate cancer, among the most common diseases among men. This year, nearly 242,000 cases will be diagnosed and more than 28,000 men will die, according to the American Cancer Society.

Prostate cancer is tough for men to talk about, especially in public, and perhaps more so for a man who has spent so much of his life in the public eye — for better and worse.

The story is mostly about Cisneros’ battle with cancer and the way he’s talking about it, to encourage other men (especially men of color) to get checked for it as needed. It’s all laudable and what you’d expect from a man like Cisneros. I highlighted this story partly for that but mostly because I can’t help think about what might have been whenever I read about Cisneros. I was at Trinity in the 80s when he was Mayor, and you could tell he was going places. Then he was tapped for HUD by President Clinton, and the sky was the limit – Governor, Senator, President, it was all possible. And then it all came tumbling down, and two decades later Mayor of San Antonio is the last elected office he’s held. It is of course impossible to know what might have happened if he hadn’t had that brush with the law in the 90s. I seriously doubt he’d have challenged Dubya in 1998, and 2002 might have been too tough a year for any Democrat. But who knows? I’ll say this much, if his health allows and he’s got it in mind to saddle up one more time, he still could be a hell of a candidate for Governor in 2014. He’s got the charisma, the post-political career success, the connections to raise a gazillion dollars, and maybe something to prove. Yeah, I know, I’m fantasizing, but as political fantasies go you could do a whole lot worse.

Endorsement watch: Cisneros for Bell-Metereau

I’ve written about the GOP primary in SBOE District 5 a couple of times, as there’s a sensible Republican (Tim Tuggey) running against incumbent wingnut Ken Mercer there. SBOE 5 also has a competitive Democratic primary, and by all indications I’ve seen the best candidate among them is Texas State University English professor Rebecca Bell-Metereau. She got a nice coup this week when former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros endorsed her candidacy.

“Rebecca Bell-Metereau is the kind of person Texas families need at the State Board of Education. She’ll stand up for our neighborhood schools, our children and our future,” Cisneros said.

“She knows that the State Board of Education should focus on our children and schools, not a right-wing agenda. That’s why I’m supporting her–Rebecca will stand up for Texas kids,” he said.

[…]

“Republican incumbent Ken Mercer is a divisive figure on the board. He uses his seat as a platform from which to ignite controversy and fight skirmishes over obscure ideological points rather than to serve the real-world needs of schoolchildren, parents and teachers,” Bell-Metereau said.

Bell-Metereau is one of four Democrats running for the nomination. She is the only candidate picking up major endorsements from Democratic organizations and education groups.

“When I’m elected, I will work to return the SBOE to its core objective, which is to ensure that our neighborhood schools are the envy of the nation,” Bell-Metereau said.

That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Those of you in the San Antonio area, take a look at Rebecca Bell-Metereau and consider giving her your vote in the primary. Thanks to BOR for the tip.

Hey, world! Pay attention to us!

Houston’s efforts to brand itself as a world-class city often come in for ridicule, some deserved and some not so much. But Houston is way farther down the path of international prominence than our neighbor to the west, San Antonio. Evan Smith highlights a bit from an interview to be published in their upcoming issue with the newly-elected Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro.

What do you do about luring companies to San Antonio and keeping them there? There are a number of major corporations headquartered in the city, but the loss of AT&T to Dallas last year had to hurt. What kind of package can you put together to attract and retain their kind?

A couple of things. First, we’re going to keep refining our economic development model. We have dozens of development entities right now, and we are going to look at how we can streamline that process and create a web presence–an informational portal of entry for San Antonio along the lines of what Houston and Phoenix do. Second, we need to get back to what Mayor [Henry] Cisneros did so well in the eighties, which was to raise the profile of the city. If you watch the Today show or CNN when they do the weather, you’d think San Antonio didn’t exist.

I have a distinct memory from college, being at home during Christmas break and freezing my butt off, checking the weather listing in the newspaper each day so I’d know just how much warmer I’d be if I were back at school. The New York Daily News weather page had a listing for San Antonio, but I’ve seen papers that didn’t. It really is weird.

It’s the seventh-largest city in the country. Is there problem that I don’t know about?

Whatever it is, we’re going to fix it.

Do you hire people to help market the city? Do you get more aggressive in publicizing things going on? Because obviously you want to spend your time on substance, and marketing isn’t really substance. Or at least it doesn’t have the same impact.

I like to think it does. If you’re a graduate of Yale or the University of Michigan or the University of Chicago and you think about where the jobs are, oftentimes there’s opportunity in San Antonio that you wouldn’t know about. We can’t even fathom how much of a talent investment we’re missing out on. So we’re going to get on the road, get with companies, write letters to media outlets, and do all the practical things we need to. Over time, we’ll get into the national conversation about up-and-coming cities.

San Antonio has some assets that Houston doesn’t. It has a much stronger sense of history and heritage, it’s a genuine tourist destination, and it’s a truly beautiful place that’s very close to some even more beautiful countryside. It’s a love-at-first-sight kind of place, where Houston is much more of an acquired taste. It may be the seventh most populous city in America, but it’s not crowded and it doesn’t sprawl out all over the place (not yet, anyway); it’s only the 37th largest TV market as a result, which probably contributes to its lower profile overall. I don’t know what I’d do in Mayor Castro’s place to raise that profile, but I’m confident that it can be done. It really has a lot going for it, and if I couldn’t live here it would be my first choice for where to move.

Cisneros for Governor?

Last week, Harvery Kronberg posted an anonymous analysis of former San Antonio Mayor and Clinton cabinet member Henry Cisneros as a Democratic candidate for Governor in 2010. I’ve put a copy of it here (rich-text format document) for ease of download. Todd Hill at BOR goes into this at some depth, so I’ll leave the heavy lifting to him. For now, I’ll say that while the BOR commenters were more negative than positive to the idea, I think on balance Cisneros would be a decent candidate. I’m less worried about his baggage than some, on the grounds that if Rick Perry is the Republican nominee, he’ll go negative on whoever the Dems put up, and if it’s KBH the Democratic candidate will have to do the same. I don’t think we’ll get any more or less a negative campaign with Cisneros on the ticket, it’ll just be a matter of what gets said. Finally, if neither Bill White nor John Sharp changes his mind about what race to run, Cisneros would at least qualify as someone with statewide name recognition and fundraising potential. If those two are out, we could certainly do worse than Henry Cisneros; we may wind up doing worse regardless. What do you think?

The next Mayor of San Antonio

Before Houston elects a new Mayor next November, San Antonio will do the same in May. Ken Rodriguez takes a look at what is shaping up to be a historic race.

“So,” my friend wanted to know, “what do you think of the mayor’s race?”

Could be historic, I said: “Right now we’ve got an all-Latino field. That’s never happened before.”

“Never?” my friend asked in disbelief.

“Not in modern times,” I replied.

Though no one has officially announced, we’ve got three Hispanics raising money to succeed Phil Hardberger: Julián Castro. Diane Cibrian. Fernando Reyes.

Think about that. In modern San Antonio history, only two Latinos have served as mayor — Henry Cisneros and Ed Garza — but no current Anglo powerbroker has filed a campaign finance report to signify a run.

Cisneros, of course, served in the 80s. He was Mayor while I was in college. Garza was the predecessor to current Mayor Phil Hardberger.

Gordon Hartman would be viable. A philanthropist and former homebuilder, he’s got name ID, writes big checks to local charities and has weighed an ’09 run since at least ’05.

But he’s a North Side mystery. He hasn’t filed a campaign finance report. And he couldn’t be reached for comment regarding his mayoral intentions.

If Hartman were to run, he could be a minority candidate. The lone Anglo in a field of Latinos.

Remarkable.

The city may have turned a historic corner. One Anglo pillar in the business community puts it this way: “I think the perception is you are not going to have another Anglo mayor in San Antonio for a long, long time.”

The observation is based partly on the city’s growing Hispanic majority and partly on the shrinking power of the Anglo business community.

It’s an interesting contrast to Houston, where the three known Mayoral candidates so far are all Anglo. Everyone agrees that at least one non-white candidate will jump in at some point, but it’s not clear who they might be.

As for San Antonio, Castro is probably the frontrunner. He lost in a runoff to Hardberger in 2005, and as Rodriguez notes, he’s been running pretty much continuously since then. He was perceived as more style than substance back then, so I daresay he’ll work to address that this time around. Having open seat Mayoral races in two of the big cities here is going to make next year very interesting. Link via BOR.