The 37-year-old Latino mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, will deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in early September, the Democrats announced yesterday. First Lady Michelle Obama also will deliver a prominent speech during primetime.
The choice of the young, energetic Castro is clearly an attempt by the Democrats to lock down the Latino vote in the November election and perhaps inject some energy into Latino voters. While polls show President Obama beating Mitt Romney among Latinos by a margin of 60-28, experts say the real question is the enthusiasm of the Hispanic electorate.
Castro will be the first Latino to deliver the keynote at the Democratic National Convention—in 1984 U.S. Treasurer Katherine Davalos Ortega keynoted the Republican convention.
“He will be a good surrogate on the road, not that you need to do that much because the president is running well with the Latino vote, the question is enthusiasm,” Antonio Gonzalez, a political activist who is president of the William C. Veasquez Institute, told the Washington Post. “It’s tough on the grassroots, people were giddy in 2008, but you don’t have that anymore. There is a feeling of being beaten down by life, particularly with young people. Maybe Julian can drum up the troops. He will add a lot of value and energy. If I was them I would wind him up and let him go.”
Barack Obama used his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention to catapult him to stardom and eventually the presidency. There are many who see a similar trajectory for Castro, whose own personal story is very similar to Obama’s—both raised by strong single mothers who guided them to elite educations (Castro went to Stanford and Harvard Law School).
“He could be the first Latino President or Vice President and it would be reasonable to suggest that Julian would be well positioned to be the Democratic nominee for Texas Governor, ” said Walter Clark Wilson a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “Right now he is doing everything right to set up these kinds of situations for the future.”
Castro’s mother, Rosie Castro, is a prominent leader of the Mexican-American Civil Rights movement in Texas, while his twin brother Joaquin is a member of the Texas state legislature who is running for Congress.