Texas primaries will show ‘tremendous’ Democratic enthusiasm ahead of midterms: Former San Antonio mayor Castro
iStock/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) — San Antonio’s former Democratic mayor Julian Castro predicts that Tuesday’s primary election in Texas will be the first sign of growing Democratic strength ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
“What we’re going to see on Tuesday is a tremendous amount of Democratic enthusiasm,” Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama and is considering a presidential run in 2020, told ABC News’ Rick Klein on the Powerhouse Politics podcast.
Castro, who recently founded Opportunity First, a super PAC that supports young candidates for federal and state offices, said he will decide on a White House run by the end of 2018, but that right now his sole aim is to get Democrats elected.
“I believe that we need to focus on the folks who are on the ballot in 2018 and keep our eye on that. And then right after the midterms I’ll make a decision before the end of the year,” Castro said, “What I have to do during these next few months is get out there and get a sense of whether there’s a path for me.”
Tuesday is the first major primary voting of 2018, and will be a key barometer of Democratic strength in what the party hopes will be a wave year that sweeps them back into power in the U.S. House and Senate.
A key indicator of that strength will be Democratic turnout in three Texas congressional districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and that Democrats hope to flip in November.
“There are three congressional seats that are targets: the 7th congressional district that John Culberson represents right now, the 23rd congressional district that Will Hurd represents, and the 32nd congressional district which Pete Sessions represents,” Castro said, “Each of them has a number of Democratic candidates that are good candidates in the primary and will likely send a strong Democrat up against those incumbent Republicans in November.”
Another sign of Democratic momentum is the continued rise of Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, who is vying for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate to challenge GOP incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz.
“He’s taking on Ted Cruz, he’s beaten him in fundraising three out of the last four cycles,” Castro said, “He’s closing the gap, and obviously I’d like to see a win. If that happens it’s going to be a very clear signal that Texas has made real progress.”
While Castro expressed optimism that Democrats will gain ground on the GOP in the state in 2018, he criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) decision to release damaging information on Laura Moser, a Democratic candidate vying for the nomination in Texas’ 7th Congressional District.
“I don’t know about the wisdom of taking that approach right now in that district,” Castro said, “Whether that ends up helping or hurting, of course the jury is still out. But I think it’s safe to say that the DCCC would be wise to be very careful about how many times it does something like that.”
Castro also criticized current HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who has come under scrutiny after his staff ordered a $31,000 dining set for his agency office. Carson has since asked the agency to cancel the order.
“I always thought the furniture was fine,” Castro said, “I’m not quite sure what led to the decision to replace it or to spend that much money to do it. It was a bad decision, it showed bad judgment. It really points out the hypocrisy of trying to cut $6 million from the budget to serve people who genuinely are working hard and need it out there for housing assistance, and at the same time making the secretary’s office as lavish as possible, that’s not what we’re supposed to be about in public service.”
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