"The words of his mouth were smoother than butter,
But war was in his heart;
His words were softer than oil,
Yet they were drawn swords."
Ever since Monday's announcement from Joaquin Castro that he wouldn't run for the U.S Senate against Ted Cruz, we've planned to write a post about how that move was all about protecting Joe Straus and the good old boy network that controls Texas' state government. The TL,DR version is that Straus' coalition is built upon Democrats crossing over to vote in the Republican primary. A competitive statewide race that keeps Democrats voting in their own primary would be a disaster for the Texas establishment.
And a disaster for Texas' establishment means that a whole bunch of money going to a whole bunch of places will get cut off; as a former member of the Texas House who played a key role in the 2009 negotiations that originally brought Straus to power, Joaquin Castro knows this:
[Note: The part with Castro begins at the 3:44 mark.]
But with that fairly obvious point being said, we turn our attention to this morning's piece in the Dallas Morning News:
The Castro twins were supposed to take long-suffering Democrats to the 2018 statewide election dance. Democrats hoped the rising stars would help turn Texas from red to purple. Instead, they were jilted.And therein lies a more important rub: At this point, these yutz's have been around for a decade, but they've never won anything bigger than a May municipal election or a gerrymandered congressional seat.
Julian Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and housing secretary under President Barack Obama, was wishfully slotted against incumbent Republican Greg Abbott for governor. His twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, openly considered challenging former GOP presidential contender and incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Both Castros have opted against 2018 statewide campaigns, leaving Democrats to reassess their options. Their decisions reflect the state of Texas politics.
Democrats haven't won a statewide contest since 1994, and they took a step backward in the 2014 governor's race, when Abbott trounced former state Sen. Wendy Davis by 20 percentage points.
Their wounds were healed in part by the hope that Julian Castro was waiting in the wings. He had been a popular big-city mayor, gave the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and was a high-profile member of Obama's administration.
But after he left his administration post, Julian Castro gave no indication that he would return to Texas to challenge Abbott. Now Democrats don't have a major candidate for governor.
The Castro brothers are careful about their political moves, and most of the electoral contests they have entered were carefully calculated to minimize the chances of defeat.
And, the only two times either of them (Note: It was Julian both times) have attempted to go head to head with prominent Republicans, Ted Cruz and Dan Patrick have made them look foolish.
But they're somehow supposed to be the vanguard of some sort of "New Texas" that never seems to materialize.
But, this time, they're totally serious about 2022.
Allow us to posit an alternative hypothesis: That alleged vanguard position is a very comfortable niche to sell to a gullible national media prone to expressing wishes as forecasts.
As Jim Geraghty of National Review wrote about Julian (though it applies just as much, if not more, to Joaquin) in 2014:
What Castro indisputably brings to his work is buckets of charisma and a knack for self-promotion.Yet here we are, three years and two election cycles since Geraghty's piece, and they've still done nothing of note.
Castro leveraged his rise-from-humble-roots narrative and the occasional wacky joke into national press coverage that most senators and governors would envy — major national-magazine profiles, a TED talk, an appearance on Meet the Press, a six-figure memoir deal. It’s fair to wonder whether Castro would get the same attention if he were not a member of a demographic increasingly important for national politics.
Neither of them were Hillary's running mate last year and now (predictably) neither of them will run statewide next year.
Now, we will confess that we were once active participants in hyping the Castros. But that was 2014. At some point, it's time to stop grading on potential and start grading on results.
Bottom Line: The metaphor of a desert mirage that never materializes seems apt....