President Barack Obama has named San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as his new Housing Secretary, furthering the rise of the young Democratic Party star who entered the national stage at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. But is Obama bringing Castro to Washington simply because he needs to reinforcements, or because he’s putting Castro on a path to being Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate in 2016?
At a time when Obama is struggling to get any legislation past republicans in congress and the general public is increasingly becoming jaded toward politics in general, the President will certainly benefit from having a popular and untarnished fresh face like Julian Castro in his cabinet. Although he’ll technically be in charge of Housing and Urban Development, Castro is already a player in Obama’s push for immigration reform, an issue popular with liberal and moderate voters alike. If Obama is seeking to make a serious second-term push on immigration, having Castro in town for the next two and a half years would help. But nominating Castro for the cabinet achieves something else as well.
Castro will need to be approved to the housing secretary position by congress, and that means republicans will have to decide whether to throw up arbitrary road blocks at the popular public figure – the kind of roadblock which could hurt republicans with moderate voters in the November midterm elections – or whether to sit back quietly and allow Castro to shine in his confirmation hearings. Either way Obama and Castro both end up looking better for it (or at least looking less bad than the republicans). And it gives the latter an additional line on a currently thin resume.
That’ll come in handy if Hillary Clinton decides to pick Julian Castro as her 2016 running mate. Although Hillary has yet to so much as publicly confirm that she’s planning to run, she and Obama have undoubtedly had private conversations on the matter. The issue of whom she wants as her VP, and how best to position that person for a 2016 run, has likely been front and center in those conversations. And now, when republicans attempt to label Castro as being inexperienced in 2016 due to the fact that he hasn’t served in congress, he can point to his cabinet experience instead.