Keeping Up with Castro

Where Things Stand

No major changes to our field this week:

-      John Delaney

-      Andrew Yang

-      Elizabeth Warren

-      Tulsi Gabbard

-      Julián Castro

-      Kirsten Gillibrand

-      Kamala Harris 

-      Pete Buttigieg 

-      Cory Booker

-      Amy Klobuchar

-      Bernie Sanders

-      Jay Inslee

-      John Hickenlooper

-      Beto O’Rourke


Who’s up next?

-      Rumors are circulating that Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams may run together on a ticket. We’ll see if that pans out

-      Michael Bennet of Colorado appears ready to throw his hat in the ring, focusing his message on the preservation of democratic institutions and an insistence on moderation


Keep an eye on …

-      John Kerrydrew 4% of the latest CNN poll, which has fueled speculation that he may make another run for the presidency – but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it


On Julián Castro

Backtracking a bit this week to cover a candidate who snuck into the race alongside a couple others: Secretary Julián Castro.

Castro gained a public profile as mayor of San Antonio, Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and as an almost-Veep selection for Hillary Clinton. He has a solid progressive track record, an easy-going personality, and a compelling background as the Mexican-American son of a single mother hailing from the new swing-state of Texas. He is, on paper, exactly the kind of candidate who should be competitive in this race.

And although it may not seem like it right now, Castro will almost definitely be competitive down the road.

It’s easy to point to his challenges: low name-recognition, abysmal polling, and – perhaps most notably – Beto O’Rourke’s shadow. He has struggled to generate press coverage, despite walking the walk like every other candidate so far. And on policy, it’s hard to name an area where he stands out.

But for Castro, it seems like the end game is the long game – a calculated bet that everything we’re seeing now ultimately doesn’t matter. He’s drawing enthusiastic crowds; his favorability numbers are on the rise; and I think we’ll be surprised in a few weeks to see that he’s raised more than expected – and spending much less than his opponents. So regardless of media attention and the pundit class, he’s probably not in the worst spot.

While some candidates decide to start with a bang, they also risk flaming out quickly – especially if the debates don’t fall their way. It’s easy to see a scenario where Castro is able to outlast his opponents, scoop up a decent amount of delegates, and become extremely relevant by the convention.

I think Castro brings some valuable things to the debate over our nominee: an ability to speak to the background of one of the most important voting blocs, an authenticity and integrity, and a vision for our future that is believable and achievable. While he’s not necessarily one of my top choices, he’s the kind of candidate that we certainly want to consider for president and a representative of our party.


On My Mind: States to Watch

Here are some thoughts on the big states to watch as the primary process begins early next year.

Iowa (February 3)

As usual, Iowa will be a kingmaker in the nomination battle – leading to a big cull of candidates and officially anointing the top tier of the race. For frontrunner candidates like O’Rourke and Harris, this should be the first opportunity to cement themselves as the singularfrontrunner. For the underdogs like Buttigieg and Gillibrand, this is the best bet to catapult themselves for real into the nomination fight. Remember, this is how Obama vaulted himself to the nomination back in 2008.

That said, expect Warren, Biden, and Sanders to put more stock in New Hampshire, where their East coast liberal style will be well-received. But for the most part, all eyes will be on Iowa.

Nevada (February 22) and South Carolina (February 29)

This is our first chance to get a read on Latinx voters and African American voters, respectively – so they’ll be significant and game-changing. Expect another cull of candidates who don’t appear to be in favor with these two important Democratic constituencies.

California and Texas (March 3)

These delegate-rich states both hit on Super Tuesday for the first time – so this consider this an opportunity for a front-runner to deliver a knockout punch to other top tier competition. Or, delegates could get allocated so many different ways that we know for sure we’re headed to a contested convention.

Michigan and Ohio (March 10)

Here we’ll see who resonates with Midwest voters, who will likely be decisive in the general election. This is where we’ll start hearing more and more about “electability” as a “key ingredient” of the eventual Democratic nominee.

Max Magid