The Big Conversation:
The post-convention spotlight may have receded, but Julián Castro isn't done with election-year politics.
The San Antonio mayor, still basking in the glow of his high-profile speech at the Democratic National Convention last month, stumped for President Barack Obama in the key swing state of Florida over the weekend.
As the San Antonio Express-News reports, Castro's trip included a swing through Orlando with Juan Hernández Mayoral, a Puerto Rico senator, and visits aimed at boosting Hispanic turnout, especially in the state's Puerto Rican enclaves.
"There's certainly a lot of enthusiasm out here to get people registered to vote," Castro said. "You can tell that the election is close. A lot of people are paying attention. There's a momentum that the president has. You can feel that on the ground here in Florida, and I'm glad to contribute in a small way to it."
That momentum for Obama appears real. Echoing a shift in national polls over the past two weeks, surveys of Florida have shown the president opening up a small but significant lead over Romney in the ever-important Sunshine State. RealClearPolitics' polling average shows Obama about 3 points ahead in the state, and The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight puts the president's chances of winning the state at 70 percent.
Castro last month also stumped for Obama in northern Virginia, where he addressed college students and campaign volunteers and spoke of the importance of Hispanic voter turnout.
"It's all about getting the vote out," Castro said at the time, adding, "The Latino community matters. It's going to take a hard push from now to Nov. 6 to ensure that President Obama wins."
The Express-News reported then that Castro might also travel this fall to Colorado, Nevada and Ohio on behalf of Obama.
Meanwhile, at home in San Antonio, Castro's upbringing — and the influence of his political activist mother — continues to draw attention, as does the pre-kindergarten initiative on which he has staked much of his political future. Castro is now also hoping to pass changes that would toughen the city's ethics code.
- As the Tribune's Aman Batheja reported Friday, state Sen. Wendy Davis' legal practice and list of government clients has become a target for her Republican opponent, state Rep. Mark Shelton of Fort Worth, in their closely watched race. Davis called a press conference on Friday to denounce attack ads in development whose scripts she said had been leaked to her campaign. "The claims made and the themes depicted are false," Davis said. "Rather than talking about issues that matter to families living in Tarrant County, Mark Shelton is using actors and actresses to say things that aren’t true." Shelton said in a statement on Friday: "It is not right for Davis to vote to raise taxes and then steer herself lucrative public contracts. This abusive self-enrichment is nothing short of Davis being a greedy public office who is robbing taxpayers' pockets to line her own pockets."
- The Austin American-Statesman on Sunday published the findings of its own look at the 266 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from Texans who died after leaving the service. The six-month investigation found that "an alarmingly high percentage died from prescription drug overdoses, toxic drug combinations, suicide and single-vehicle crashes — a largely unseen pattern of early deaths that federal authorities are failing to adequately track and have been slow to respond to." More than 1 in 3 veterans, for instance, died from drug overdoses, and about 1 in 5 died in car crashes.
- U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, on Friday moved to block $450 million in emergency U.S. aid to Egypt announced by the Obama administration. Granger, the chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, echoed the concerns of Republicans who have cast doubt on the need for foreign aid and on the Obama administration's recent handling of foreign policy in the region. "I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time," Granger said in a statement.
"I just think that this is not a winnable race. We have to make tough calculations based on limited resources and where to allocate it, where it will have the best likelihood of electing a Republican senator." — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to the Courier-Journal on Missouri's U.S. Senate race
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