By Kristian Jaime
Flanked by former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro and Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Congressional candidate Jay Hulings continued his efforts to displace Republican Will Hurd.
Hulings joins a slate of candidates, including Texans in other campaigns like Veronica Escobar vying for the 16th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, to challenge the long-held republican establishment in the Lone Star State. Hulings, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, has already established himself as the key Democratic challenger to Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23).
“Opportunity is the business we are all in,” stated Hulings in a campaign stop in San Antonio’s West Side. “For generations, in investments we made in one another, or in schools or labor protection, those have benefited [our community]. The real American dream is making the future better for our children.”
Like many Texas Democrats, platforms on immigration are centered on balancing reform and enforcement. That includes pathways to citizenship as well as protections for children of immigrants legally born in the United States. It also means vehement opposition to the proposed border wall by the Trump administration.
The Texas 23rd Congressional District is among the largest in the nation, thus Hulings must grapple with issues pertinent to undeserved locations in West Texas to growing and lucrative cities like San Antonio. The Alamo City is also the template for Hulings’ early education plan.
Investing in universal pre-K, a program initially proposed by former HUD Secretary Castro as Mayor for San Antonio, includes supporting teachers and expanding vocational training. Data in early childhood development has corroborated the benefits of that program. San Antonio, for its part, has proven that investments in pre-K education can be made and result in educational achievements last through college completion. The administration of Pre-K for SA acts as a model and Hulings hopes its expansion will find a foothold nationwide.
“We want an America where anyone from anywhere can be anything,” continued Hulings. “That dream is under attack right now. There are forces in this country that are trying pull the ladder up behind them and take away those opportunities for success. We have to fight for success for everyone.”
As early voting opens February 20, the push is on by Democrats to exploit what they see as a vulnerable Republican party in previously uncontested red districts. That includes well-known names that have become the rising stars of the party like former HUD Secretary Castro.
Both he and his brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20) joined Hulings on his campaign swing across West Texas. Yet the famous twins are still keen on their political aspirations with Rep. Castro (TX-20) seeking re-election in his district and his brother in the exploratory stages of a Presidential run in 2020. Following the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Castro was a focal point of the party culminating in his appointment as the top man at HUD under President Obama.
When the native of San Antonio is not making early appearances in battlegrounds states like New Hampshire or Arizona, he is making sure the majority in Congress shifts in key districts like the Texas 23rd.
“The state has moved towards the Democratic column alot in the last couple of years,” Castro said. “Texas had the highest Democratic jump than any other state in 2016 and that trends is continuing. In places like Houston, Dallas and other cities, something is happening. People have realized we’re the ones standing for everyone.”
Citing the crop of candidates in blue strongholds like El Paso, Castro was quick to note the competitiveness of these races are far from a fluke. With the divide between both sides of the aisle seemingly deeper than ever, the message of immigration and educational reform is resonating with voters feeling disenfranchised by the current Congress and administration.
That has precipitated Castro’s current work with the Opportunity First Political Action Committee.
“I’m going to make a decision on whether to run for President by the end of 2018,” Castro concluded. “Between now and November, I’m going to spend my time trying to get other great candidates elected to office. After November, I’m going to take time to think about my future and decide on 2020.”