Castro flashed signs of big-time political talent in his speech at the Democratic convention, but he is faced with the same problem as all Texas Democrats: all dressed up with no place to go.
Democrats are not positioned to win a statewide race anytime soon. They don’t have the party infrastructure to win–the money, the organization, the top-tier consultants. Castro is a mayor, a position that has proved to be a dead end in Texas politics. Ron Kirk, Kirk Watson, and Bill White all tried to move up the ladder from their various city halls. Kirk went from mayor of Dallas to trade representative, a position of cabinet rank. Watson was mayor of Austin when he ran, unsuccessfully, for attorney general in 2002. White was deputy secretary of energy before he ran for governor in 2010 against Rick Perry and lost. That’s a lot of wasted talent.
If Castro is going to have a political future, it is going to have to be in Washington, not Texas. Obviously he is a favorite of Obama’s, so a cabinet office could beckon (assuming that Obama is reelected). Which position? Not HUD: It swallowed up Henry Cisneros. Not Commerce. And Education is a dead end. I would say Transportation. Obama likes high speed rail and the Dallas-San Antonio corridor is suitable for high-speed rail. Or he could follow in Tony Garza’s footsteps as ambassador to Mexico. One way or another, though, he has to leave Texas, for a while anyway, if he is going to have a successful political career.