Speaking with the Tribune’s Evan Smith at a TribLive event in Austin this morning, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro rejected Gov. Rick Perry’s rationale for refusing to apply for Race to the Top education grants, which could have been worth $700 million to the state's schools. “I would have taken the Race to the Top money if I was mayor, dogcatcher, or whatever,” Castro said. He shrugged off the notion that the potential windfall came with too many strings attached because, he said, “all federal money comes with strings attached.”
Castro’s advice to cities and communities that want federal funding but, due to friction between the state and the federal government, might find it hard to come by it was to cut out the middle man. “You need to make a direct pitch to the administration,” he said.
Of course, another option is to change the middle man. The San Antonio mayoralty may be non-partisan, but Castro is a Democrat — and he thinks his party might have a shot in at least one statewide race this year. “I believe Bill White is the most talented, serious candidate we’ve had in a while,” he said. Could White become the first Democrat to get elected since Ann Richards? “If he gets in a one on one race with Gov. Perry,” said Castro, “that’s a race that will be very close.”