In a move that could position the Democratic Party favorably for the 2016 presidential election, President Barack Obama is expected to nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a Cabinet-level appointment that could test the 39-year old’s ability to navigate Washington ahead of the 2016 elections.
Castro, serving his third two-year term as the mayor of the nation’s seventh-largest city, is a rising star in the Democratic Party. He was mentioned as a potential vice presidential candidate for Democrats in 2016, and was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. He and his twin brother, Representative Joaquin Castro, are popular speakers on the party’s fund-raising circuit.
Castro will replace current HUD head Shaun Donovan, who plans to become director of the White House Office of Management and Budget as part of a restructuring of the Cabinet after Kathleen Sebelius stepped down as secretary of Health and Human Services.
Donovan would replace Sylvia Matthews Burwell as head of Office of Management and Budget. Obama has nominated Matthews Burwell to take over as secretary of Health and Human Services. Donovan was commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development before taking over at HUD.
If Castro is nominated to run HUD and confirmed by the Senate, he would become one of the highest-ranking Hispanic officials in the Obama administration. Two other Hispanics service in Obama’s Cabinet: Maria Contreras-Sweet, as secretary of the Small Business Administration and Thomas Perez, the labor secretary.
“This is an important step for Julian,” Henry Cisneros, a HUD secretary under President Bill Clinton and a former mayor of San Antonio, told The Associated Press.
Still, some question whether Castro has significant experience to run a federal agency with thousands of employees and a $45 billion budget.
The White House has faced criticism in recent years for not appointing more minorities, especially Hispanics, to senior government jobs, especially since Latinos provided strong support for Obama in 2008 and 2012. At 53 million, Hispanics account for 17 percent of the nation’s population.
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