May 23rd, 2014
04:51 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama taps Castro for HUD, Donovan for OMB

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama nominated San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to be his next secretary of Housing and Urban Development on Friday, a move that comes as part of a wider cabinet shakeup and has stepped up interest in the rising Democratic star.

The 39-year old, three-term mayor first gained national recognition when he delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention - the first Hispanic to do so.

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In announcing Castro, Obama noted that the first time Americans were introduced to him was when "they saw this young guy, pretty good speaker, not bad looking" at the convention.

Alluding to the fact that Obama's biographical story is similar – he gave the 2004 keynote address – the President jokingly said his reaction to the speech was "That's not bad."

Castro said at the White House that the opportunity was an "honor" and a "blessing."

"To be your nominee, President Obama, is simply a blessing for me," he said. "I am here alone at the podium... but I stand on the shoulders of so many folks."

"We are in a century of cities, America's cities are growing again and housing is at the top of the agenda," Castro added. "If confirmed, I stand ready to assist you Mr. President, your administration and local officials across the country to ensure that we do housing right and that because of it more Americans achieve their dreams."

First elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2011 and 2013, Castro is the youngest mayor of a major American city. He has been widely considered a rising leader in the Democratic Party and some even say a potential vice presidential candidate in 2016.

If confirmed by the Senate, Castro will replace Shaun Donovan, who the President will nominate as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Donovan is an original member of Obama's cabinet, starting with the president in 2009.

Donovan's opening at OMB came after its former director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, moved to the department of Health and Human Services after Kathleen Sebelius resigned earlier this year.

Obama expressed confidence in both men and asked that they be confirmed by the Senate "without games or without delay."

"I am absolutely confident that these two individuals are going to do a great job because they have done a great job at everything they have done in the past," Obama said.

The cabinet shuffle comes at the same time that another member of Obama's team – Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki – is hearing calls for his resignation in reaction to poor management at VA hospitals across the country. Both Democrats and Republicans have on Shinseki, a decorated war hero, to step down from the post.

The president made the announcement at a Friday event in the State Dining after White House officials scrapped plans to hold the ceremony outside in the Rose Garden, citing the possibility of inclement weather.

The move from San Antonio to Washington is a significant one for Castro, someone considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. News of his possible appointment ricocheted around Washington, not for his policy positions, but instead for the possibility that the mayor would be a likely pick for Vice President in 2016.

"Castro Move to HUD Sets Up Possible VP Selection in 2016," blared one headline. "Are you ready for Vice President Julian Castro," read another.

A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Castro began his political career at a young age. At 26, he was the youngest councilman ever elected in San Antonio. Four years later, he ran for mayor, but lost to retired judge and fellow Democrat Phil Hardberger. Another four years and Castro was in City Hall at the ripe old age of 34.

Castro was re-elected in 2011 with 82% of the vote and in 2013 with 67%.

He has spoken out in favor of same-sex marriage and of affirmative action, even telling The New York Times that it helped him get into Stanford.

Castro is the grandson of Mexican immigrants. His grandmother came to Texas from Mexico as an orphan at the age of 6. She taught herself to read and write in Spanish, eventually finding work in San Antonio as a maid and a cook.

His twin brother Joaquin Castro, who introduced him at the DNC in 2012, represents Texas' 20th district, which includes parts of San Antonio, in the House of Representatives.

Filed under: Julian Castro • Obama administration
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Castro is a horrendous choice, which the Senate should reject. However, because of Reid's shenanigans, in the Senate, it may be impossible to stop this horrendous appointment.

    May 23, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    -–just get good guys, graduate from Harvard, Duke means zero. Guy with ethics, morality, standard is needed.

    May 23, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. 2_indy1600

    Which Castro bro admitted to the SAT score of 1200? Don't let that bother you, his LA RAZA roots will tell you that the "The KKK is to Blacks what the English Language is to Hispanics." They mayor doesn't handle finances for the city of San Antonio, so other than a great smile, this guy is a obvious winner in the Obama/Clinton world: no experience.

    May 23, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  4. 2_indy1600

    Our president has nominated a racial supremacist of "The Cosmic People" for the HUD position. Not sure he speaks Spanish, but his LA RAZA roots are anti-English speaking, so what's up with that? Since race is the latest lost flight at CNN, and the "IMMIGRANTs" are coming (can't say illegal) this should fit right in. I'm all for inclusion and access, but this is such a blatantly political play it's insulting. This guy has nothing but PR experience and a nice smile. Perfect choice for Hillary, courtesy of the Obama team. Choices like this tell people all they need to know about the blue agenda.

    May 23, 2014 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Iamnotfooled

    The Castro brothers are both lawyers and very brilliant. They also come from humble beginnings and know the plight of the poor. HUD deals with the poor. Good job President Obama. Julian Castro will be an asset to the Democratic Party.

    May 23, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  6. liberal disease

    if a barry made the decision it is a disaster, count on it

    May 23, 2014 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  7. David Steele

    Yet another career politician from the Dems. No surprise.

    May 24, 2014 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  8. will

    The ONLY reason Republicans WON'T like Cadtro is because he is a Hispanic DEMOCRAT! The ONLY reason!

    May 24, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  9. Just

    Obamas cabinet choices is a suicide mission for the incompetents.

    May 24, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |