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Tim Kaine

Beatty’s memo

From the Trib:

Texas Democrats are being told they have their “greatest opportunities in a generation” this November with Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee and majorities of voters viewing corruption as a major problem in state government.

Austin-based Democratic pollster Leland Beatty argues, in a memo obtained by The Texas Tribune, that several factors, including an anticipated drop in GOP straight-ticket voting, could provide beleaguered state Democrats their biggest opening in 20 years. His predictions come as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton continues to trounce Trump in all national and most battleground state polling, raising questions about his strength even in some reliably red states.

In Texas, 20 state House districts may be in play out of 39 where there is a GOP incumbent and a Democratic challenger on the ballot, Beatty wrote. In all 39 districts, a majority of those expected to vote — ranging from 52 percent to 72 percent — see corruption as widespread in Texas government, according to Beatty’s projections.

[…]

One caveat to Beatty’s analysis involves money. In the 20 House races that could be competitive, he said the Democratic candidates “do not appear financially ready to compete,” with 13 having reported less than $5,000 in the bank as of June 30.

See here for a copy of the memo, and here for the poll conducted last month. I’ve chatted with Beatty a bit since that ran, and he mentioned some of this stuff to me during our conversations. I don’t know which House races he has in mind specifically, but as it happens I’ve got a post in the works that speculates in that general direction, and I strongly suspect I’ve hit on many if not all of the districts he has in mind. Look for that post tomorrow.

As for the money issue, I’ll just say this: Both Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine have been saying some suggestive things about competing in Texas. No one really believes that, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t direct a few donors to put some bucks into downballot Texas races, or just towards general GOTV/turnout efforts. It wouldn’t take much to have an effect, and it would be a decent investment in loyalty, if nothing else. Or you know, if you’re one of those people that likes Democrats and has some money burning a hole in your pocket, you could pick a few of these races to get involved in. Nothing like investing locally, right? At some point, that’s what we’re going to have to do regardless of what else is happening.

Castro ruled to have violated the Hatch Act

Oops.

Julian Castro

Julián Castro, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development and rumored Democratic vice presidential prospect, violated a law prohibiting federal employees from politicking on the job when he commented on the presidential election in an April interview with Katie Couric, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Monday.

Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, praised Hillary Clinton as the “most experienced, thoughtful and prepared candidate for president that we have this year” and described Donald Trump as unfit for the office in an interview with Couric for Yahoo News on April 4.

The special counsel found that those remarks violated the federal Hatch Act because Castro had given the interview in his “official capacity” as HUD secretary, OSC’s Carolyn N. Lerner wrote to President Barack Obama in a letter referring the counsel’s findings “for appropriate action.”

The report, dated June 24, notes that Castro told Couric he was “taking off my HUD hat” before he made his comments on Clinton and Trump. Still, the OSC concluded that his “statements during the interview impermissibly mixed his personal political views with official agency business,” according to Lerner’s letter.

According to the report, Castro testified that he believed at the time of the interview that his comments were in line with the law and never intended to violate it. He has since “reconsidered this position” on the appropriateness of the remarks and said he is “confident no similar blurring of roles will occur in the future,” the report says.

So much for that, it would seem, and right after his Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me debut, too. This doesn’t strike me as the worst thing anyone has ever done, but he shouldn’t have done it, and it is clear that it’s a distraction Clinton can’t afford and will surely want to avoid. In a universe where “Benghazi” and “Emailgate” were treated as the nothingburgers they are, it might be different, but we are not in that universe. PDiddie thinks this paves the way for Sen. Tim Kaine, and he certainly has a lot of mainstream support. I’m a fan of Tom Perez myself, but last I checked no one was asking me. Sorry, Julian. Get better legal advice before talking to the media next time. The Current has more.

Castro back on as VP possibility

I have three things to say about this.

Mayor Julian Castro

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is on the shortlist of potential running mates for Hillary Clinton, and has been asked by her campaign to provide personal information, San Antonio Express-News sources have confirmed.

Citing Democratic sources, reports said that in addition to Castro, a pared-down list the Clinton campaign is considering includes Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and that others also may yet be in the running.

[…]

Campaign insiders at the Bipartisan Policy Center recommended this spring that because of the high stakes, presidential nominees devote at least two months vetting potential running mates, which includes digging into their finances, their family history and even their social media posts.

But Clinton, who has been a fixture in Democratic politics for more than two decades, apparently feels secure in a more compressed time frame. She’s not expected to announce her choice until — or just before — Democrats gather in Philadelphia on July 25 for their nominating convention.

Castro’s chances were widely thought to have dimmed with the rise of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, whose incendiary remarks about people of Mexican heritage had functioned to energize Latino voters.

Castro, who would be the first Latino on a major party ticket, may yet fall short given his lack of experience.

The Associated Press reported that supporters of Castro, 41, said he would bring other advantages, among them his relative youth alongside Clinton, 68, and some of the other potential running mates. In her challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton struggled to attract young voters to her cause.

U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra of California and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez also have been mentioned on a list of Hispanic candidates who could be appealing to Clinton.

Warren, who turns 67 on June 22, is a favorite of many Sanders backers for her outspoken liberal views, particularly when it comes to regulating Wall Street. She and Clinton have not been close, but the two met recently in Washington after Clinton’s victory over Sanders became clear.

Kaine, 58, who’s known as a centrist in the party, had emerged as a favorite of some party insiders because he might appeal to independents and address another of Clinton’s weaknesses — her problem with Anglo male voters.

1. It was just a month ago that Castro himself was saying that he was not being vetted for the VP job. Things can change in a hurry, so perhaps one should not take any single story about the VP selection process with too much seriousness.

2. I agree with Brian Beutler that Hillary Clinton has the luxury of being able to pick any reasonable candidate as her VP, and I agree with Matt Yglesias that her first priority should be to pick someone whom she would like as her successor in 2024. Beyond that, I don’t really have an opinion on whom she should pick.

3. What effect might Castro have on Democratic prospects in Texas? I don’t know, but a lot of people think he would be good for Dems here. I tend to think so, too, but you know how we could try to answer that question? With some polling, of course. We finally have a poll now, but it doesn’t address that question. Perhaps another poll, assuming it happens before any VP announcements are made, could include some questions pairing Clinton with this VP hopeful or that one to see if any of them make a difference one way or another. My guess is that any such effect would be modest, but why guess? Give us a poll! Campos and the Current have more.

UPDATE: One national poll suggests Castro doesn’t move the needle much if at all in either direction. That’s not the same as seeing if he has an effect in Texas, but it is a data point.

The DNC comes to Texas

This is a pleasant surprise.

Calling Texas “a tremendous growth opportunity for the Democratic Party,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine announced this afternoon that Austin will host the Democrats’ annual fall meeting.

The Sept. 10-12 session will highlight positive political trends for Lone Star State Democrats, party officials said.

“Now, some might find that notion odd given Texas’s traditionally conservative bent and its recent history of supporting Republican candidates for elective office,” the Virginia governor said in an email to Democratic National Committee members. “But I don’t find it odd at all — and in fact, I am more convinced than ever that Texas is trending our way and will continue to do so.”

Kaine compared recent Democratic legislative gains in Texas — and major breakthroughs in areas such as Harris and Dallas Counties — to the newfound Democratic dominance in his own home state.

“In so many ways, I believe Texas is poised to move towards our column, just as Virginia has,” he reasoned. “Texas is an increasingly diverse state with a burgeoning and politically active Hispanic population that went strongly for Barack Obama in 2008.”

It’s greatly encouraging to hear things like that being said outside our borders. Maybe if the DNC – and by extension, Team Obama – is serious about making a play for Texas in 2012, it’ll encourage a stronger Democratic push, both in terms of fundraising and candidates, for next year. Sure would be nice to have a strong slate of statewide candidates here to greet these visitors in September, wouldn’t it?