Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is reportedly on the Hillary Clinton short list for her vice-presidential pick, expected to be announced on Friday. The current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Barack Obama administration is considered a fast-rising star in the Democratic party and, as an American of Mexican heritage, one who appeals to the party’s large base of Latino voters.
But with many supporters of Clinton’s primary opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, remaining skeptical about Clinton’s credentials as a “progressive,” the selection of Castro could work against Clinton with the party’s newly vocal progressive wing.
Castro endorsed and actively supported Hillary Clinton during her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, and some insiders believe that Obama named Castro to the HUD cabinet position in 2014 because Clinton wanted the 41-year-old to gain national political experience before she picked him as a running mate.
Julian Castro reemerges from the shadows in Hillary Clinton’s running mate sweepstakes https://t.co/dRGeVgZtDh
— Kevin (@KevinDarryl) July 17, 2016
While Hillary Clinton currently leads her republican opponent Donald Trump by a vast, 62-percentage-point margin among Latino voters, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll released this week, a VP selection of Castro is seen as way for Clinton to send a strong message to Latino voters, shoring her up her support among the demographic.
Castro would appear to have solid record of liberal positions. According to a Washington Post profile, he has publicly supported same-sex marriage and a woman’s right to choose an abortion, and believes strongly in affirmative action programs because, he says, “I’ve seen it work in my own life.”
Castro burst onto the national scene with a speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that earned him rave reviews from viewers and party faithful. Watch the complete Julian Castro 2012 DNC speech in the video below.
But earlier this year, a leader of one progressive Latino advocacy group slammed Julian Castro as a “toxic” vice-presidential pick for Hillary Clinton.
“It’s a situation where the Clinton campaign wants Castro to be a major asset to her chances of winning the White House, and unless he changes his position related to foreclosures and loans, he’ll be a toxic asset to the Clinton campaign,” Matt Nelson, managing director of Presente.org, told the Politico news site.
At issue, the progressive groups say, is Castro’s record as HUD secretary, in which they say — notably on the anti-Castro advocacy site DontSellOurHomesToWallStreet.org — Castro has reneged on a pledge to help troubled homeowners by selling their mortgages to nonprofit community groups.
Instead, they say, Castro has sold most overdue mortgages to Wall Street financial firms — claiming that Castro sold “98 percent of the mortgages straight to Wall Street – and at a HUGE discount, almost half off!”
“If Secretary Castro fails to create significant momentum in terms of stopping the sale of mortgages to Wall Street, then I do think it disqualifies him,” Jonathan Westin, director of New York Communities for Change, told Politico.
“I think a lot of the progressive movement would not be in support of a Castro ticket if he fails to make traction here.”
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The left-wing news and opinion site TruthOut also registers progressive objections to Castro, blasting the Texan as “lacking a serious leftward ideological bent.”
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) July 18, 2016
Castro, TruthOut writer Michael Corcoran said, supported the North American Free Trade Agreement. Opposing NAFTA was a centerpiece of the Bernie Sanders campaign and has become an article of faith among the progressives.
Sanders supporters also remain angry at Castro for backing Clinton, as well as for attacking Bernie Sanders for his 2006 vote that supported the anti-immigrant vigilante group The Minutemen, a vote that Sanders did in fact made, but which he says just one piece of a larger bill.
Hillary Clinton is also reportedly considering Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine on her short list for her vice-presidential running mate, along with Julian Castro.
[Photo By Erich Schlegel/Getty Images]