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Joaquin Castro Steps Away from Challenging Ted Cruz

Castro’s decision leaves Beto O’Rourke as the lone Democrat in the U.S. Senate race.

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Joaquin Castro
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty

After months of speculation, U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro on Monday backed out of running for the U.S. Senate. Castro’s decision gives congressman Beto O’Rourke a clear path to the party nomination to challenge incumbent Ted Cruz in 2018. Castro, who represents San Antonio, cited both his family and his current U.S. House committee appointments as his reason for not running.

“Texans want a Senator who will stand up for their families, not stand down to Donald Trump,” Castro said in a statement. “I’ve kept my pledge to fight for hard-working Texans, and I’ll keep doing that. However, with the threats posed by Russia and North Korea, coupled with the reckless behavior of this Administration and their failure to invest in economic opportunity for the American people, at this time I believe I can best continue that work by focusing on my duties in the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees.”

O’Rourke represents El Paso, but he also had promised that he would serve only one more term in the House. He announced last month that instead of seeking a final House term, he would challenge Cruz. (Political strategist and television pundit Matthew Dowd is considering a possible independent run against Cruz.) Though a Texas Lyceum poll showed O’Rourke tied with Cruz, almost a third of those surveyed had no preference in the Senate race, and in recent years Republicans have had at least a 9-point advantage in Texas general elections.

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  • WUSRPH

    For O’Rourke it was going to have to be either make himself a liar by changing his position on term limits or “up or out”….Castro did not have to face that kind of a choice and can wait for a more favorable time or for a VP nomination in 2020. The social media attacks on O’Rourke, his family and all the rumors, etc. will not accelerate….

    • Unwound

      Ted Cruz is the zodiac killer though, so pick your poison.

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      • vjmassey

        Shame on you.
        🙂

    • vjmassey

      You’re probably right.

  • BCinBCS

    Castro out, Beto in.
    We live in interesting times.

    • vjmassey

      Sure do.

  • SeeItMyWay

    Beto is young, aggressive and a good self promoter; both the Castros have name recognition, but also both have Achilles heels which will plague them. None of these three stand a chance in a U.S. Senate seat.

    On the other side, Cruz has lost his luster. Many influential evangelical supporters abandoned him during his presidential run, and others followed suit. First, he was not consistent, and second, his talking points never turned into specific, measurable action plans.

    Am I the only one who sees the extreme far right arm of the Republican Party loosing ground? In D.C., the Freedom Caucus is losing members, and here at home, the Empower Texans acolytes seem to be no longer walking in lockstep.

    This is encouraging to me.

    I see an opening for a new conservative moderate entering the Senate race. The question is “who”?

    • SeeItMyWay

      Let’s just speculate. Who is it that the Texas Tea Party group is pounding on the hardest these days. Democrats? Nope. Fellow Republicans. Who have they hung the largest bullseye on? Straus. Why? Because he listens to all and brings Democrats into the decision making process to build consensus and move things forward. The fact that the radical right is cussing him has to be attracting Democrats attention to him as somewhat of a good guy.

      Now let’s move forward.

      If Texas Democrats know they have no chance of Beto or Castro winning, why wouldn’t they vote for Straus over either of their guys – knowing that they would at least be heard and their wishes considered?
      Combine the moderate conservative vote with some Democrat’s crossover votes, and Straus could be our next U.S. Senator.

      • SpiritofPearl

        Mike McCaul . . .

        • SeeItMyWay

          Definitely got the money to introduce himself to those that don’t already know him, but he would never get a speculative crossover vote, would he? Texas Democrats seem to have a modicum of respect and trust for Straus.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Straus might get some Dems, but would that be enough to offset the loss of the Tea Party types he’d lose?

          • WUSRPH

            You have just explained one of the reasons why this entire discussion has little purpose— Straus will never get the votes of the really radical TPers and many “Christians” (SIC) who dominate the GOP Primary. The very fact that just a few Democrats might even find him acceptable is more than enough cause for them to reject him….

          • SeeItMyWay

            I don’t know. Not a political guy. Just an observer who reads a lot.
            I see the radicals losing numbers and stroke; I see the moderates not all being faith driven; I see many in the weak Texas Democratic Party smart enough to know that the lessor of two evils makes them better off. Times the are a changing. This last Presidential election proved this to be true. Prognostications based on historical outcomes are on much shakier ground.

          • WUSRPH

            I would hope that, as you suggest, that the “radicals” of both the left and the right are losing numbers and stroke, but, as of yet, I have seen little evidence of that. It certainly isn’t the case with the “resist” movement or with the still solid support Trump is getting from those who voted for him. In fact, events to date–including the reaction to Trump’s violently anti-democratic (with a little “d”) speech on Saturday—suggest that the two are growing more extreme, not less. The sad fact about politics is that those with the most emotion and passion—including hate—are more likely to vote than anyone else. This is particularly so in the party primaries….

            As to the “lesser of two evils makes them better off”…..That is true only if you are willing to accept that you have to live with some degree of evil…..and if you can find someone to convince people who disagree with what Straus has done (and made possible) on so many issues that they should be grateful that he did not do more to make things worse.. That’s a very hard sell. Voters want to be able to believe that electing someone will make things better, not that he will only make things not as bad as they could be. Joe Straus, unfortunately, has not demonstrated that he can offer them that assurance.

            Of course, much of what happens in 2018 will depend on Trump—both on how the public views him and how he reacts to what now looks like a continuing series of failures to accomplish his ends. Trump is clearly beginning to understand that being president did not make him a King….and that the issues are much, much more complicated than he has thought…..How he reacts to that is critical. There is a small chance that he will “learn on the job”…..and accept the reality of governing…..That, however, would mean that he would have to abandon trying to do much of what he promised his voters….and how they would react to that. But, based on his past history and such things as Saturday’s speech, I fear that rather than moderating, Trump will get more extreme in his attacks on the Congress and those who stand in his way. Should he do that—and should his base follow him–we could be in danger of a very serious attack on the constitutional system which governs this nation…..and a very, very dangerous political situation.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Sorry. Way too much for me to absorb. I am just going by what I read, see and hear, and then formulate opinions. I will reread your post.

            I came up with my pseudonym in jest. I am not posting to tell people how or who I vote, or voted, for. I just like the back and forth.

            My first post on this blog was a heartfelt poke at the inequities I found in the sanctuary cities bill passed out of the House.

            I guess this, at least, lets you know that I am no fan of radical on either side. I’m looking for something more.

          • WUSRPH

            You are more than welcome…The Blog needs more people who want to discuss these issues……and your contributions have been of interest. Please stay with us……

          • vjmassey

            I agree with you.

          • vjmassey

            A true moderate?

          • SeeItMyWay

            No. I “lean” right.

          • vjmassey

            Most moderates do.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Unless the are leaning left of the centerline. 🙂

          • vjmassey

            You make some great points.

          • vjmassey

            Yes they are.

          • vjmassey

            Yep.

          • vjmassey

            Maybe.

          • SeeItMyWay

            As I stated below, I don’t really know. Just spitting thoughts out.

          • vjmassey

            I see what your saying.

      • WUSRPH

        Straus looks good in comparison to Patrick, but looks can be deceiving…..A more careful view would consider what the House has passed during Straus’ terms as speaker and, if you do that, you find that it is not that different from the regular conservative/right wing platform. From abortion to sanctuary cities to deliberately discriminatory redistricting plans, to campus carry to budgets that fail to meet the needs of a growing Texas and tax cuts that will make it even worse in the and on and on, the House has done almost everything Patrick could desire. Why then should Democrats want to vote for him?

        • WUSRPH

          After all, Texas does not have a unicameral legislature.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Even someone as uneducated as I am about exactly how things work in Austin, based on what our constitution says, has to know that special interests and dark money control everything from our governor, thru our Lt. governor, and on through the senators. To me, this is a given. I can’t think of one I am familiar with that gets much respect from me. The guy from Tyler who gave up his senate seat was the only one I followed who seemed to act independently. This to me is really a sad indication of how bad things really are.

            On the other hand, I find some hope in some I follow in the House.

          • WUSRPH

            Again, I wish I could agree…and I hope that you are right about the future…but the past shows that the Legislature is getting more radical rightist members each session. They, in fact, now make up virtually a majority of the Senate. The House, perhaps because of Straus, is less extreme, but it is moving that way. Last session, for example, Straus’ Team was not willing to let the anti-sanctuary cities bill pass. This session it is being carried by one of the leaders of his team. As I suggested a few weeks ago, I think part of this is because some of Straus’ leaders fear that the House has to pass such bills for them to be able to stave off primary challengers.

          • vjmassey

            But who’s electing them? The people.

          • vjmassey

            Big money for both parties.

          • vjmassey

            No it does not.

        • dave in texas

          Never mind – deleted.

          • SeeItMyWay

            How would you describe Straus?

          • dave in texas

            To steal a phrase from Mitt Romney, “severely conservative.” But at the same time, a gentleman and usually a conciliator. One can be far to the right without a being a total and complete jackass, a lesson some legislators seem not to have ever learned.

          • SeeItMyWay

            He may be “severely conservative” but it is hard for me to view him in that light – probably because so many others are miles further right than he is.

            I like “severely conservative. I might start using terms like “likeability challenged”.

          • vjmassey

            It is more like mentally challenged.

          • vjmassey

            And never will

        • SeeItMyWay

          I understand that the House passes Republican submitted bills. That’s a given, but Democratic reps and politically aware Democrats read what all the rest of us do. That Straus is inclusive and has all the radical right beside themselves. After a losing fight, you know who swung a couple of punches in your behalf, or pulled a bully off of you.

          • WUSRPH

            Your point appears to be that it could be worse. He talks to Democrats..He does not act like Craddick….He is not as far radical right as others….He tries to insure some civility and, most importantly, he is not Patrick. All that is good and makes him a nicer guy that others….BUT the bills that a majority of Democrats in Texas oppose somehow still get passed into law. Getting beat by a nice guy does not mean that you were not beaten and that the people of Texas have not suffered as a result of Straus being speaker—not as much as they could have perhaps—but still the results have been to make the situation worse and that should be what a decision on whether to support him should be based.

  • WUSRPH

    Does it say something about the Legislature when, despite all the State’s problems and needs, the first bill signed into law by the governor is one that prohibits the state or local governments from doing business with anyone who boycotts dealing with Israel? Not something we’d like to see people do, but hardly the most important issue facing Texas.

    • SeeItMyWay

      I am a baseball fan, but questioned taking anytime away from putting out fires to honor Pudge Rodriguez. Let me guess. It was a patronizing representative wanting his face on the news and name in the newspapers who was behind it all.

      • WUSRPH

        It was sponsored by Rep. Stickland one of the leading TPers who fight waste and big government. Actually, the Legislature passes literally hundreds of resolutions saluting or honoring some person or group every session. Only a few are formally presented like this one.

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  • WUSRPH

    Texas Republicans will take another crack at reducing the number of votes for Democratic candidates on Friday with HB 25 going to the House Floor for debate. The bill will outlaw the single-punch straight party ticket vote by which a voter can cast a vote for every one of a party’s candidates with a single punch or mark. The GOP wants to do away with the straight ticket because in good turn out years it can lead to a Democratic sweep in places like Dallas and Harris counties…..What makes the GOP’s desire to ban straight ticket voting unusual is that it is also of real help to down-ballot Republican candidates in heavy GOP areas, but the Republicans appear willing to give up their advantage in those areas in order to blunt the impact in Democratic areas.

  • WUSRPH

    I suspect JJ will soon be searching for a new “favorite” Texas legislator since his most recent one, Rep. Krause, is a co-author of the TLR “blue tarp” bill that JJ hated so much in the past.

  • WUSRPH

    Speaking of Trump making a lot of noise and accomplishing nothing…A perfect example is his new EO on “religious liberty” that says much and does virtually nothing……It does not repeal the Johnson Amendment. It does not change the regulations on birth control under the ACA. It just talks and talks…to no purpose other than PR.

    Even conservatives think it is worthless:

    http://tinyurl.com/lcm3ch8

  • vjmassey

    What’s the right church?