The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Castro in '07?

According to Jaime Castillo, maybe:

Trying to retire about $50,000 in campaign debt, recently defeated mayoral candidate Julián Castro has been making the rounds with political heavy-hitters in recent weeks.

And the result of a couple of those meetings with allies of Mayor Phil Hardberger has raised the question of whether Castro may be thinking of challenging Hardberger again in 2007.

Castro recently visited with Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and Frank Herrera, a big-time Democratic fundraiser, who both said they would support Castro's debt-relief effort, but on one condition: that he pledge not to oppose Hardberger in two years.

Castro declined in both instances, raising some well-placed eyebrows.

"I told him I'd be glad to help," Wolff said, "but I can't get into the situation where I'm raising money for a guy who is going to run against the current mayor."

Castro, a 30-year-old Harvard graduate who since the election has dived into his private legal practice, said it's much ado about nothing.

"This is only to retire the debt," Castro said. "The last thing I'm thinking about after a two-year-long campaign is another campaign."

So why not rule out a 2007 mayoral bid to get the financial support of Wolff and Herrera?

Aides close to Castro say that the former councilman is not likely to run against Hardberger, but he does want to keep his options open should Hardberger's term become problematic.

First, so Julian finally admits he's been running for Mayor immediately after winning re-election in 2003. While retiring his debt shouldn't be that much of a problem, Castillo goes on to speculate that Castro could end up running for County Commissioner against incumbent Paul Elizondo and likely challenger, former City Councilman, Enrique Barrera.

Don't know why Castro would want to really run for county commissioner. Outside of a good salary and a decent-length term, there's nothing really sexy- to me at least- about being a county commissioner. As far as crafting good policy, you can do that when working hand in hand with the city, but outside of that there's not too much to do there.

As far as running for Mayor in '07, think that would be really tough. Mayor Hardberger would have to screw up something righteous for his re-election to actually be a problem. In the term limit era, how many SA mayors have actually faced a tough re-election campaign? Not Peak or Garza. Did Wolff have a tough race in '93, I don't remember? The only one I know of is Bill Thornton. But by the end of that race Thornton had gone 'round the bend, accusing Howard Peak of stalking him.

Plus if there was a real problem with the Hardberger administration, wouldn't a current member have an itch to run too? Art Hall has already ran for mayor and I know he's on record saying that the mayor's seat is something he'd want to do at the end of his career, but if the opening's there, wouldn't he take it? As of May 4, Roger Flores Jr, had almost $51,000 in the bank (By the way, how did the councilman who missed the most votes over the past two years- 1 out of every 3- become the only councilman to get a free ride this past May? And yet no one, myself included, even talked about this.). Someone tell me what that's all about (Mike V., something tells me you might want to have your walking shoes within arm's reach).

Finally, Richard Perez' term comes up in '07, and he's probably the most qualified of anybody on Council. Should Hardberger's term become 'problematic' and Castro does decide to run, it would take but one of those three to throw a serious wrench into a Castro '07 campaign plan.

No, if Castro really wants to run the city he needs to wait until 2009. The last thing a bright, young pol needs on his resume is two losses. Just ask John Sharp.