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VP Talk Aside, Julian Castro Savors Nonpartisan HUD Role

VP Talk Aside, Julian Castro Savors Nonpartisan HUD Role

By Adam O'Neal - September 19, 2014

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro -- whose name often comes up as a potential Democratic vice presidential nominee -- said Tuesday that he has been relishing in his nonpartisan role at HUD. 

“Ninety percent of the work that we do in most of these agencies, but particularly in HUD, is non-political,” estimated the former mayor of San Antonio. “It’s not really impacted by whether folks are Democrats or Republicans.” 

Castro’s comments came during a luncheon event titled “Investing in What Works: Mayors’ Best Practices” and co-hosted by RealClearPolitics and the advocacy group Results for America.

Asked what he thinks his party is doing wrong on housing -- prominent Democrats earlier this year stalled bipartisan housing legislation that Castro backed -- he skirted the question but offered a related response: “I don’t think necessarily that the challenge is as much ideological as it is that sometimes the foundation has not been laid” to allow for compromise between Democrats and Republicans. (Castro also noted that conservative Republicans, as well as liberal Democrats, had voiced concern with the bill.) 

The up-and-coming Latino has spent time since taking over HUD in July promoting home ownership. He argues that the subprime mortgage crisis created a stigma around buying a home: “Folks have been somewhat reticent about promoting home ownership in the way that they did before, even though we have had reforms that have made things better.” 

The keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention recently dined with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stoking a fresh round of rumors about his political future. 

Asked by RCP Washington Bureau Chief Carl Cannon how he would avoid the “HUD secretary curse” of falling into obscurity, Castro laughed and said, “I’m just going to try and do a great job in my role. And I figure, even if I’m gone, I have a twin brother. So they’ll think he’s me.” (His brother is Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro.)

Following his presentation, a panel featuring Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith discussed how mayors are using data and empirical evidence to improve their cities.

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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