With no Democratic governor candidate, questions trail Joaquín Castro


“My plan is to run for re-election,” Castro told reporters Tuesday.

The state Democratic Party chairman has said it might take a while for the party’s full slate to gel.

Exiting a summit on citizen diplomacy Tuesday at the Texas Capitol, U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-San Antonio, was trailed by a handful of reporters.

“Something tells me you didn’t come to hear a speech about international affairs,” Castro said.

He was right.

The reporters were there to once again ask whether he would consider running for governor in 2018.

It has become a somewhat tired ritual. But with no hint of any formidable Democratic candidate ready to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott, reporters have little else to work with, and for Castro, as for his twin brother, Julián, the only day more nettlesome than the ones on which they are asked about their future political ambitions, will be the day when reporters stop asking about those ambitions.

Wendy Davis did not launch her bid for governor until Oct. 3, 2013. But from nearly the moment her epic filibuster of anti-abortion legislation in the Texas Senate went viral nationally in June of that year, the former Democratic senator from Fort Worth seemed bound to run.

“You know, I would be lying if I told you that I hadn’t had aspirations to run for a statewide office,” Davis told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes the day after the 2013 filibuster.

READ: Can Beto O’Rourke lead Texas Democrats out of the political wilderness?

Davis lost by 20 points to Abbott and is no longer pestered with questions about running for statewide office.

Last week, Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa stirred the ashes of hope that Joaquín Castro might run in 2018 in search of faint embers.

“He’s never ruled it out,” Hinojosa said of Castro.

So, Castro was asked Tuesday, apropos Hinojosa’s comments, “Are you still considering it?”

“No. I have nothing further to add right now,” Castro replied. “My plan is to run for re-election, as I said when we had a press conference here about a month ago.”

That was Aug. 16, when Castro, also in the Capitol where he served 10 years as a state representative, said to much the same gaggle of reporters, “Well, I have a job right now, and my plan is to run for re-election.”

Castro was asked Tuesday if Hinojosa was guilty of peddling false information.

“The chairman is a great friend and has worked really hard building up the Democratic Party over the last few years, and I’m very appreciative of his work,” Castro said.

Have you ruled out a run for governor?

“My plan is to run for re-election,” replied Castro, now chuckling at the inability of reporters to let it go.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

What about those who say any Democrat who would run for governor or other statewide office in 2018 would just be a “sacrificial lamb.”

“I think Democrats are going be more competitive this year than before,” Castro said. “I think Democrats who run statewide have a fighting chance to win.”

Hinojosa said the party will field a statewide slate from governor on down, but — absent Castro or his twin, a former mayor of San Antonio and U.S. secretary of housing and urban development who is teaching at the University of Texas and mulling running for president — it might not gel until right up to the Dec. 11 filing deadline.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, is running for the Senate seat held by Republican Ted Cruz. (Castro passed on that race.)

Mike Collier, the Democratic candidate for comptroller in 2014, is running for lieutenant governor.

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said the failure of Texas Democrats to have a good candidate for governor — even one who can’t win — could undermine Democrats down ballot.

“The lack of a credible candidate could hurt their ability to pick up two or three U.S. House seats, or somewhere between six and 10 state House seats,” Jones said.

RRH Elections, a national Republican election blog, this week rated Abbott’s governorship, “the safest seat of all.”

“Even if a credible Democrat did emerge, they would face all but insurmountable challenges: Abbott is quite popular and universally known, and Texas, while trending toward Democrats, is brutally inelastic,” the blog concluded, noting parenthetically that “(Some Democrats are trying to recruit Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) into the race, but that seems more a pipe-dream than a realistic possibility at this point).”

The Capitol reporters made one last stab at Castro on Tuesday: What about those who say if you don’t run against Abbott, nobody else will?

“That if I don’t run?” he said, clarifying the question before dismissing it.

“No,” he said of the notion that he is indispensable. “Absolutely not.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

JUST IN: SWAT team responding to barricaded person in North Austin, police say
JUST IN: SWAT team responding to barricaded person in North Austin, police say

A person is barricaded at a location in North Austin and an Austin police SWAT team is responding, officials said Monday night. Police reported the incident at the 600 block of Barwood Park about 11:20 p.m. Police are urging people to avoid the area. This is a developing story; check back for details.
Man shot, seriously injured on Manor Road
Man shot, seriously injured on Manor Road

A man was shot and seriously injured on Manor Road on Monday night, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Medics responded to Manor Road and Rogge Lane at 8:34 p.m. and found a man, estimated to be in his 20s, with a gunshot wound, EMS officials said. He was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries,...
Austin bombings: Latest explosion has experts tweaking bomber profile
Austin bombings: Latest explosion has experts tweaking bomber profile

Law enforcement and others seeking clues into the mind of what now appears to be a serial bomber say the latest explosive incident on Sunday night, the city’s fourth over 17 days, provided more trail crumbs than definitive signposts pointing toward a potential suspect. Austin interim Police Chief Brian Manley has said preliminary indications...
UT Faculty Council objects to removal of books in Fine Arts Library
UT Faculty Council objects to removal of books in Fine Arts Library

Amid student and faculty protests against any consideration of plans to take more books and materials from the University of Texas’ Fine Arts Library, the UT Faculty Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution objecting to further removal. In an unusually packed faculty council meeting with more than 200 in attendance, various faculty...
4th Austin bomb more sophisticated than others, leaves city on edge
4th Austin bomb more sophisticated than others, leaves city on edge

The suspected serial bomber terrorizing Austin is more sophisticated than originally believed, but the motive behind the attacks remains a mystery, officials said Monday after a Sunday night explosion that wounded two men in Southwest Austin. The latest incident, the fourth attack in 17 days, signaled to law enforcement that the bomber or bombers have...
More Stories