CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Julian Castro, the largely unknown mayor of San Antonio, Texas, delivered a rousing convention speech here Tuesday night that has many Democrats heralding the Second Coming of Barack Obama. So who is this guy that Democrats plucked out of relative obscurity to introduce the party on the biggest national stage?
Here’s what you need to know:
- Castro has been in city politics since 2001, when he was elected as the youngest city councilman in the San Antonio’s history. He was elected mayor in 2009.
- He has a twin brother, Joaquin Castro, a Texas state representative who is running for Congress in the state’s 35th district. Both Castro brothers graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
- The Castros were raised by a single mother, Rosie Castro, a Mexican-American community activist who helped establish the somewhat radical chicano political party La Raza Unida
This compelling personal biography makes Castro an obvious choice for Democrats, who are looking to appeal to Latino voters in 2012 and add to their relatively weak bench of up-and-comers.
Castro has been compared to Florida Senator Marco Rubio, another young Hispanic politician who wowed Republicans at their national convention last week, and also to Barack Obama, who shot to national stardom (and the presidency) with his own convention speech just eight years ago.
Unlike Rubio and then-Senator Obama, there is no presidential buzz surrounding Castro just yet. But Democrats are talking about a potential gubernatorial run for Castro in Texas, which would automatically make him a contender for national office.
These were high expectations for a local politician who has thus far had very little national exposure. The question Tuesday night was whether Castro could deliver on the national stage.
Although his speech started out slow, Castro definitely rose to the occasion with an address that highlighted his personal narrative, attacked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and laid out the case for re-electing Obama.
Here’s the line that really brought the house down:
In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don’t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labour. My grandmother never owned a house. She cleaned other people’s houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.
Watch the full speech below: