Obama 2.0: How Julian Castro Rocketed to National Stardom

castrodncA different kind of vision for Texas

The article below deserves to be circulated outside of San Antonio.  When Barack Obama, a previously unknown community organizer, became a US Senator, it was clear certain forces were working hard in the background to pave the way.  Castro seems to be rising to prominence in a similar fashion.   The foreign influences are obvious,  something we now see so often on the left.    And by foreign, I’m not referring to just DC.

[reprinted in its entirety - original by Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express News:]

HOW MAYOR ROCKETED TO NATIONAL STARDOM  (February 17, 2013)

Less than four years ago, Julián Castro simply was Phil Hardberger’s successor.

As the new mayor of San Antonio, Castro joined a pantheon that included Ed Garza, Howard Peak and Bill Thornton — people whose political careers peaked during their years on the council dais.

These days, Castro is everywhere: on the pages of Vogue, in the middle of a “Meet the Press” panel, guesting on “Face the Nation” and, most importantly, keynoting the Democratic National Convention.

How did he get from there to here?

Most politicians who experience a rise to national prominence do so by winning a high-profile race, possibly even knocking off a seemingly unbeatable titan in their home state. That’s how John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan did it.

Castro, by contrast, rose to national heights without ever appearing on a ballot outside the city of San Antonio. Yes, he is a young, bright, attractive Latino mayor. The same could have been said 10 years ago for Garza. And no one ever asked Garza to pose for Annie Leibovitz or schmooze with the POTUS in the Oval Office as Castro did recently to discuss the president’s own pre-k plan for the nation.

Castro’s rise can’t be explained by his policy achievements either. His signature program — Pre-K 4 SA — only recently won voter approval and has yet to be implemented. His SA 2020 initiative boils down to a series of fuzzy, long-term goals.

So, if Castro didn’t become a major figure on the strength of election victories or policy breakthroughs, how did it happen?

Castro’s ascendance is a remarkable story of collective wish fulfillment, a star-making process that rivals anything conjured by Simon Cowell, creator of “American Idol” and other reality television shows.

On July 9, 2009, only 51/2 weeks after Castro took office, his old friend Ruben Navarrette wrote a nationally syndicated column predicting that either Castro or his brother, Joaquín, would become the first Latino president of the United States.

Before Castro had done anything — other than pass a largely symbolic ethics ordinance — as mayor, Navarrette touted him as someone who could inspire Latinos “without threatening non-Latinos.” (Last September, this man-crush reached new heights when Navarrette gushed: “The Castros don’t let people down; they lift people up.”)

The Navarrette column seemed outrageously premature, but it hit South Texas like a thunderbolt, and set in motion a hype machine that ran on its own power and incessantly defined Castro as the Latino Barack Obama and the future savior of the Democratic Party.

Within a few weeks of the Navarrette column, the New York Times sent writer Zev Chafets to San Antonio to find out about this promising young mayor that everyone (or at least everyone who read Navarrette’s column) was buzzing about. Chafets spent some days shadowing Castro, and the lengthy result, “The Post-Hispanic Hispanic Politician,” appeared in the Sunday Times on May 6, 2010.

From that point on, the media offers came gushing in. Less than eight weeks after the Times piece, Castro made his first big national TV splash, with an interview on Stephen Colbert’s Comedy Central Show. The interview was obviously informed by the Times profile, with Colbert pointing out — as Chafets had — that the mayor did not speak Spanish fluently. An appearance on CNN with John King followed two weeks later.

By this point, Castro had landed on the Obama administration’s radar. Sources say Cecilia Muñoz, Obama’s initial director of intergovernmental affairs, clicked with Castro early on and helped establish a connection between San Antonio and the White House.

It didn’t hurt that the mayor had some prominent San Antonians in his corner.

Juan Sepulveda, a protégé of Southwest Voter Research Education Project founder Willie Velásquez, ran Obama’s 2008 general-election campaign in Texas and would go on to become the Democratic National Committee’s senior adviser for Hispanic affairs. UTSA graduate Adrian Saenz became Obama’s Latino-vote point man.

In October 2011, San Antonio architecture-firm executive Henry Muñoz III co-hosted a posh Obama fundraising bash at the Los Angeles home of Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, with Castro in attendance.

The Obama administration consistently put Castro in a position where he could shine: inviting him to the White House to discuss immigration and energy policy; having first lady Michelle Obama praise Castro’s fitness initiative; and enabling him to join a presidential delegation to Mexico City.

By early 2012, he’d clearly passed the audition. Obama invited him to watch the 2012 State of the Union address from the first family’s VIP box. Six months later, Obama made a fundraising swing to S.A., with both Castros by his side.

As last year’s DNC approached, Obama sat down with 20 Latino leaders from around the country to sound them out about the campaign. Every Latino rep in the room agreed that Castro was the ideal choice to make the keynote address at the convention.

To Castro’s credit, he took that opportunity and made the most of his 20 minutes on the national stage. There’s no slowing down the machine now.

Indeed. We’ve seen how quickly it can happen, when people aren’t paying attention.

 

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