San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is set to be nominated for secretary of housing and urban development (HUD), NBC News confirmed Saturday, citing government sources.
The new post would offer a national profile to Castro, a rising Democratic star who has been mentioned as a potential 2016 vice presidential pick.Castro, 39, would replace HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who in turn would move to run the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, according to The New York Times. That post is soon to be open because its director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, has been nominated to be secretary of health and human services, and she appears set for confirmation.
The White House has declined to comment to NBC News on the moves, saying only that it has no personnel announcements to make. Castro is still being vetted by the FBI, as is routine, a government source told NBC News, so the announcement will come in the next week or two.
A source familiar with the thinking inside the White House told NBC News that President Obama is picking Castro because of his strong record on downtown revitalization and because it’s important to have a cabinet that reflects America.
Castro, whose brother, Joaquin, is a U.S. congressman from Texas, drew notice when he delivered a well-received keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Though he’s not fluent in Spanish, many Democrats believe the Mexican-American mayor’s demographic profile and sunny personality are perfect for appealing to an increasingly non-white electorate.
Castro’s potential move to HUD recalls President Bill Clinton’s 1997 appointment of Andrew Cuomo—at the time one of the party’s most promising up-and-coming talents–to the same post. Today, Cuomo is governor of New York, and a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
For Castro, the job could be even more valuable. Ordinarily, one obvious route to national recognition would be to run for the U.S. Senate or for governor. But no Texas Democrat has won a statewide election for two decades, meaning that path could be a challenge.
Castro reportedly was approached by the White House after the 2012 election about serving as transportation secretary, but he chose to stay in San Antonio at that time.
Castro would be the second recent mayor of San Antonio to serve as HUD Secretary. Henry Cisneros, who held the Cabinet job from 1993 to 1997, also led the Alamo City, which is the nation’s seventh largest.