Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Tale Of Two Texans -- Castro and Cruz

Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio
(Courtesy of James Gatz, Public Domain)
US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas
(Courtesy of US Senate, Public Domain)


Javier Manjarres of The Shark Tank and I have had a few interesting conversations since we met in North Carolina last May. Javier lives in Florida and covers some of the more exciting politicians on today's national stage including Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who is always a great source of comic relief. Javier also covers Marco Rubio quite extensively. 

Being a first generation American and a child of immigrants, Javier follows many other first generation Americans, especially those of Cuban and Mexican descent. 

One of our recent conversations centered around 2014 and 2016 possibilities. Among them is a reasonable possibility of a showdown of some of these first generation Americans currently in the national spotlight.

It's no small secret that I backed TEA Party favorite Ted Cruz in his election to the US Senate representing the great state of Texas. I was living in Arizona when I first heard of Cruz's bid in the primary. In fact, I was unable to vote for him in either of his primaries or in the November general election since I was still a legal resident of Arizona at the time. Cruz overcame great odds in keeping Dewhurst from attaining the necessary majority to win the first primary. So the two ended up in a runoff primary. With odds stacked against him and little support in key areas of Texas, such as San Antonio, Cruz won. Then he won the general election.

Since officially taking office in January, Cruz has hit DC like a Texas-sized wildfire. He has been very vocal about fiscal reform and government transparency. He is the breath of fresh, conservative air the Senate needed. Among his more recent acts was his overt support of Rand Paul's filibuster during the Brennen confirmation hearings. As freshmen Senators go, he has many similarities to Florida's Marco Rubio. 

Cruz has openly and vocally supported cutting funding to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, since it is a taxation and appropriations bill, officially. 

At a Cuban-Democracy PAC luncheon in Miami, FL, Senator Cruz quite vocally stated that it would be great for both Cuba and the US if Fidel and Raul Castro were to collapse dead like Hugo Chavez recently did.  

Cruz has voted against confirming both Brennen and Hagel, something more "senior" GOP senators were too timid to do. During Brennen's confirmation hearing, Cruz was quite direct in asking about UAS/UAV strikes on US Citizens on US Soil. This same topic was later the cause for Rand Paul to filibuster.

There have been some discussions about a possible presidential race between Rubio and a Texas-based socialist who has also made national news recently. This could lead some to ponder a similar race between Ted Cruz and his fellow Texan, Julian Castro.

Julian Castro's twin brother, Joaquin, is a US Representative for Texxas' 20th Congressional District, which serves part of the city of San Antonio, TX. Julian is currently the mayor of San Antonio. They are of Cuban descent, though Julian reportedly has difficulty speaking Spanish. 

Castro and Cruz are diametric opposites on the political spectrum. Castro, like the tyrants currently oppressing his ancestral home, Cuba, is a diehard socialist. His proposals around the city have kept many in the area from feeling the full prosperity the rest of the state experiences. 

Recently, Castro won a popular victory in a referendum to raise city sales taxes in order to broaden the government schools' pre-K (daycare) program. His efforts are to make the government option so large that private businesses have difficulty competing. His very premises surrounding the proposal expressed this socialist desire for a government take-over of that industry. He claimed that a large number of potential "students" did not have the government option available and parents were unwilling to enroll because those few options were part-time. The reality is that many parents prefer the private options to what the government indoctrination centers can provide. 

This tax hike will now allegedly provide several new jobs for babysitters in government schools. The average starting salary for a public school teacher in San Antonio is roughly $30k a year plus a benefits package that costs tax payers $70k total (salary + benefits) a year for that entry level babysitter. The average teacher in San Antonio makes much more. To contrast, private "Headstart" pre-K providers pay an average of $10 an hour starting pay. That amounts to about $20k a year. In essence, the government program costs tax payers much more than the private options. 

Castro has also been pushing for an increased "light rail" or "streetcar" system in San Antonio. Numerous studies have been done on the cost-benefit analysis. They all have proven that this is a waste of tax dollars that will never be able to recoup, in transit fees, the amount it would take to build the system. When adding in the operating and maintenance costs, the project is nothing but a huge sinkhole of government waste. The failure of Atlanta, GA's T-SPLOST program should serve as an important lesson for Castro. However, it doesn't. 

Castro has allowed San Antonio to be a testing ground for socialist policies. The pre-K program is one example. That won the popular vote by a slim margin in November. In the State of the Union Address, Obama proposed a similar plan on a national scale. 

Castro also opposes several state-level immigration and border security bills. He opposes Sen. Rubio's proposed plan. In fact, Castro opposes anything short of an unsecured border and automatic citizenship. He pleas that San Antonio's education and employment ratings suffer under the current (yet not adequately enforced) immigration laws. Why? Because fear of deportation or prosecution for fraud and identity theft cause illegals to pull their kids out of schools they should not be attending in the first place. Because that same fear causes illegal workers to fail to show to work. New bills in the Texas Legislature will probably make Castro's head explode, since they mirror Arizona's SB-1070, which Castro rather vocally opposed.

This trend should come as no surprise when one recalls that Julian Castro was a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention that nominated Obama for his second term. If one recalls an earlier DNC while Bush was still in office, a young Senator from the state of Illinois made the keynote address. The next presidential race, he was the leading candidate. This indicates that the socialist caucus of the DNC has big plans for Julian Castro.  

Those plans may include a run at Texas' other US Senate seat. They could also include a bid for the DNC nomination for the 2016 ballot.

 While The Shark Tank did an analysis of possible a possible Rubio versus Castro race, I'd like to explore possible races involving the two Texans. (Javier's analysis is wonderful and worth the time to read).

Cruz may have presidential aspirations in the future. Looking at his character and record thus far, he could make a good president. But Cruz would do better to stay active and vocal in the Senate for at least his full elected term, which would end in 2018, two years after the next presidential election cycle. Given his dedication to the job we hired him to do, he does not seem like a man who would shirk those responsibilities in order to run for president while still in his first term like our current president did. Cruz has more decorum than that. 

Still, if it were to happen, how well would Cruz do against Castro? It would be a tight race. Castro would capitalize on the Obama administration's severe encroachments of socialism. By that time, more Americans will have gotten used to the policies Obama enacted. Like Truman after FDR, Castro would have an edge, especially among those enslaved by government handouts. However, Castro's one failing point would be in confidently claiming the Hispanic/Latino demographic. The race at that point would come down to foundational ideologies and their abilities to sell them to the public. Both have done so in recent years. Cruz proved his grass-roots appeal in his Senate race, despite having the "establishment GOP" opposing him during the primary against Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. 

Cruz would have a better edge against either of the Castro Twins if they challenged him for his Senate seat in 2018. Again, it would be a close race. The Castros could feasibly lock up both Joaquim's 20th CD and Sheila Jackson-Lee's socialist stronghold down in Houston. But Cruz would have a stronger backing throughout the state, especially in Ron Paul's former congressional district. 

Where the races would become interesting is in the Vice Presidential arena. If Castro were the VP running mate to Hilary Clinton, he could do well riding her coat tails. Hilary does well in polling and exploratory surveys against many leading Republican hopefuls. But Hilary may not do as well against firebrand Rand Paul. Rand having either Cruz or Rubio for a running mate would cancel Hilary's claim to the Hispanic/Latino demographic. She would have to face scrutiny on many subjects to include her handling of the Benghazi attacks and her failed handling of the so-called "Arab Spring". So her foreign policy would stack against her. She and Rand could form a fight we have not seen since Bush v Gore or Lincoln v Douglas. 

In both those tickets, the VP choice would end up a major selling point. This is where Castro has little pull. The VP's primary job is to preside over the Senate. Both Rubio and Cruz have experience in the Senate that Castro lacks. Rubio and Castro have had experience with treaties and foreign policy, since major actions of that sort require Senate ratification in order to become adopted. Again, Castro has no real foreign relations or policy experience, except, maybe, sipping mojitos with tyrants such as Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Hugo Chavez.

Regardless, the 2016 presidential race and the 2018 mid-term election that would include Cruz's Senate seat are still quite a ways off. We need to keep our eyes on 2014 and watch what all of the above attempt to accomplish between now and then.