NOW with Alex Wagner | February 25, 2013
>> identical twins and rising political stars, julian and joaquin castro . they are profiled in the current issue of "vogue." jacob weissburg writes "as a political phenomenon they are a two for one package. halves of a joint enterprise focused on expanding the kind of educational opportunity that has enabled their own mutual rise." aside from their overarching policy goals, they are focused on something else. turning texas blue. "their political project is to reverse what karl rove accomplished nearly two decades ago, when he solidified the republican domination of texas . the brothers have been working with members of obama's political team on what they see as a six to eight year effort to make democrats electable again at the state level." it will not be ease where i. texas has voted republican in each of the last nine general elections and hasn't elected a democrat to statewide office since the mid 1990s . president obama lost the state by 16 points in the last election, but there are reasons for optimism. texas is one of four majority minority states and its 9.5 million hispanics , currently 38% of the population, will outnumber whites by 2030 . still, several weeks ago joaquin acknowledged that change won't happen overnight.
>> realistically within eight to ten years we should be competitive. there should be circumstances where a democrat can win statewide.
>> indeed at present texas remains defiantly red. as exetchfied by its current star tea party freshman senator ted cruise and three-term governor rick, oops, perry who spoke to the notion of turning texas blue this weekend and called it "the biggest pipe dream i have ever heard." joining us now to discuss the stars of the lone star state is chairman of the slate group, what a title, jacob weissburg, author of the article "a pair of aces."
>> thank you, alex.
>> let me ask, what do -- we just talked about turning texas blue, the castros are stars nationally. what is the opinion of them in texas ? do you have the sense of how beloved they are in a statewide level?
>> oh, i think they're both very popular politicians. julian is a very popular mayor of san antonio . that said, they really wowed that convention.
>> how do you square then -- this is what i don't understand about texas . maybe someone from texas can tell me at some point. how do you have rick perry , who has been in office for almost three and a half terms and you have senator ted cruz in the senate and then you also have people like the castros getting elected to congress. is that just the majority-minority piece, or is that sort of weird texas water systems?
>> well, it is a polarized state , and it's a state that has swung very far. i mean, in my lifetime the state leadership in texas was all democratic. albeit conservative democratic compared to what we're used to at the national level. karl rove took on a long-term project which with george w. bush as the protagonist of winning the state for republicans , and he won every state office for republicans . the question is can that be reversed, and if so, what will be the factors and how long it will take?
>> howard, you have seen a national campaign in your lifetime. jake writes in that story -- he says julian has his sights set on the governor's mansion, though not in 2014 when rick perry might or might not run for re-election. in 2017 , however, mayoral term limits will force julian out of office which frees him up for a 2018 governor's race. the fantasy of many texas democrats is an all castro ticket. joaquin challenging the cuban-american tea party darling ted crews and his brother running for governor. what do you think of that?
>> i think it's an exciting opportunity. i mean, look, the long-term math doesn't bode well for the republicans in texas . the more latinos, more african-americans voting for democrats , and if the republicans can't fix their latino problem, increasingly, it's iffing to play out in texas politics getting democrats elected to the statewide level. now, whether that happens two years, four years, six years, eight years, hard to tell when sort of the tipping point occurs, but it's clearly not moving in the right direction for the republicans , and you have seen this in other states. i mean, virginia was a solidly red state . is now kind of mixed. may even be a blue state . you've seen north carolina move a little bit. this is not -- states don't always remain republican because they've been republican for generations. they switch. weave seen that the other way. i mean, the solid south was once democratic. it's now republican. these things have a way of moving, and the demographics in texas would suggest that it's moving in the direction of the democrats . if you have two very charismatic, very popular, very accomplished democrats , they will help that process along.
>> one thing i learned writing this piece is how different latino politics is in texas . the castro brothers don't speak spanish. they grew up -- their immigrants came to this country before -- their ancestors did before my an southeasts overs did. they've been here almost 100 years.
>> their grandmother was the first one to come over.
>> even their mother who is a popular latino activist didn't grow up as spanish of their first language. it's not all based around immigration. latinos have been in texas for a long, long time.
>> michael steel , we talk about the growing lat anneee population in the u.s. first of all, it's not monolithic. right now the way that -- it's on the issue of immigration, which is jake points out it's not -- actually in texas , you know, democrats need to learn how to talk to the his pan ebbing pop rags. rick perry wants 39% of the hispanic vote, and likewise, republicans need to learn to talk to his pan ebbings at a national level sfwloosh you're right. i think to howard's point. the demographic shifts have a factor that need to be taken into account as the state changes. i think the timeline is a little longer than a lot of democrats hope it is, simply because even those republicans -- those democrats you're talking about in the his pan ebbing community, they're conservative. they do identify with that part of the political spectrum . the shift is going to common areas, yeah, like immigration, but economics and upward mobility , opportunities which the castro brothers really speak to, and if they can -- i think they light that. it's about talking about opportunity in a new way that people don't see it through a partisan lens and see it much more in an opportunistic lens.
>> the other thing is democratic turnout. we've talked about minority turnout in national races. the biggest problem in the "new york times" writes is the voter participation. only about half of eligible hispanic voters show up nationwide. this edged up slightly in 2012 to 53%. in texas just 4.1 million hispanics are registered to vote, and only about half make it into the voting booth . sthoo that is actually the reason why democrats have not been competitive, not just in texas but states like nevada where you have large hispanic populations but they don't participate. there are parallels between what texas is going through and florida went through. you know, florida was a lean sort of republican because you had this overweight of the cuban-american population. the beg bulk of the hispanic --
>> cuban-canadian. good point. good point. the vast majority, something like 60% to 65% of american hispanics are of mexican background like the castro brothers. the growth opportunity is in people who have an afint culturally with second and third generation. not necessarily spanish speaking hispanics because they're starting to lean the more african-americans do on jobs and economics. if democrats can register more voters and they probably will because they have a better relationship with hispanics , then i think that, yeah, texas in ten years will be competitive.
>> the sort of latin -- the story of latin immigration in the u.s. may not be, you know, my mother crossed the border from mexico. i was indicated in stanford and harvard. i don't speak spanish. i can speak to the latten community. i can speak to hispanic concerns. i can speak to national concerns. that seems to be the model for the castros at least.
>> it's just getting more complicated. i mean, what a cuban-american has in common with dominicans or puerto ricans in new york? obama won the cuban vote for the first time. if you even look within the cuban vote, there's a big shift between older cubans who are very conservative and vote republican, and younger ones who think very different about differently about a whole bunch of issues, and manly our relations with cuba and whether we should continue the embargo. i resist the idea of demographic inevitability. there are long-term shifts which do favor the democrats in general. it depends on how extreme the republicans decide to be. if they're going to be a tea party dominated party, it's going to be a lot easier for the democrats , and it's going to be a lot easier for the democrats if they have talented candidates like the castro brothers than if they have a bunch of nonentities who fill a box.
>> the castro brothers do really get along that well, don't they? they just seem sort of attached at the hip .
>> that's the thing i loved writing this story because it's a story about brotherhood. you know, these guys are twins, and i was looking, of course, for tension and conflict. i'm sure they've had their share of that. their mother told me they did growing up. they used to fight like cats and dogs . these guys now, they just love each other, and they're on the same wave length, and they work together, and it's to be honest, it's just a beautiful thing to see them.
>> virtually indistinguishable. like me and my twin who occasionally hosts the show. slate chairman mr. chairman, two chairmans on the same side of the table. david weisburg, "pair of aces" in the march issue of "vogue." another texan on the cover, beyonce.
>> wayne lapierre received a standing ovation for gifting the annual western hunting and consearchation expo with a bunch of crazy conspiracy theories. we will talk wayne's world ahead on "now."