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The Brief: Sept. 4, 2012

With Julián Castro just hours away from making his national debut, some Texas Democrats say their comeback begins tonight.

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With Julián Castro just hours away from making his national debut, some Texas Democrats say their comeback begins tonight.

Like their Republican counterparts last week in Tampa, Fla., Texas Democrats were passed over for the prime real estate in their party's national convention, which starts today in Charlotte, N.C. (Those slots this year go to Illinois and Delaware, the president and vice president's home states, and swing states like Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia.) Texas Democrats have, like the Republicans, also been housed several miles from their convention site, largely secluded from the action.

But in a rare boon for Texas Democrats, one of the party's rising stars was selected to deliver the convention's prime-time, televised keynote speech — the same address that launched Barack Obama into stardom eight years ago. And Democrats expect Castro, the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, to make a mark.

"You’re in for one of those moments that 10 years from now, you’re going to say, 'I was there when he gave that speech,'" Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, who said he'd seen a draft of Castro's speech, told The Washington Post

As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports from Charlotte, Texas Democrats, who haven't seen one of their own elected to statewide office since 1994, also appeared optimistic about what Castro's selection meant for the national party's future investment in Texas, where demographic changes have long portended a possible Democratic resurgence.

"They recognize Julián Castro is a potential statewide candidate — very likely to be the first one we’ve had in a long time in the very near future," said Gilberto Hinojosa, the state party's new chairman, who has said he wouldn't hesitate to ask the national party to invest more heavily in Texas.

But Castro isn't the only Texan providing the state's Democrats with some hope. Pete Gallego, running in the heated Congressional District 23 race against incumbent Republican Francisco "Quico" Canseco, may remind national Democratic Party leaders of Texas' competitive down-ballot races. U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, an Obama national campaign co-chairman, will also address the convention, though not in prime time.

Castro is expected to speak around 9 p.m. Central, after being introduced by his twin brother, state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who is running for Congress.

Culled:

  • Attorney General Greg Abbott may have scored some big court victories recently, but rulings issued last week in two major voting-rights cases — redistricting and voter ID — threaten to overshadow his other successes. As the Tribune's Ross Ramsey writes, "It would be fair to say he is getting the stuffing knocked out of him … on issues that matter to Republican voters."
  • Mexican President Felipe Calderón on Monday delivered his final state of the nation address, touting the nation's relative economic stability and his efforts to curb the nation's debilitating drug violence. "Many problems persist, yes, but today Mexico has more and better capacities to confront them. Mexico has changed, and changed for the good. It has more solid and effective public institutions," he told a crowd at Mexico City's National Palace." Calderón will step down in December, when his six-year term ends.
  • Before addressing and visiting with soldiers in Fort Bliss on Friday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order directing officials to increase mental health services and research and suicide prevention efforts for veterans. At the base, Obama touted some of the military action he has taken in his first term, including removing troops from Iraq and working to end the war in Afghanistan. "With allies and partners, we've taken out more top al-Qaida terrorists than at any time since 9/11," Obama told a crowd of about 5,000 soldiers, according to the El Paso Times. "And thanks to the courage of our forces, al-Qaida is on the road to defeat, and bin Laden will never again threaten the United States of America."

"About $50,000 came in right after the primary, but I can't even get the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to return my calls." — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler to the Houston Chronicle

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