A new PAC being launched today by former HUD Secretary Julian Castro has flipping state legislatures from red to blue as one of its objectives ahead of the 2022 redistricting planning.
Flipping legislatures is one of three goals of the Opportunity First PAC. The primary goal is to find a way to return control of the U.S. House to the Democratic Party, the Texas Tribune reported. Castro hopes to grow majorities after the 2020 decennial Census for redistricting advantages and build the bench with younger faces.
“We’re going to go out there and find great young talent,” Castro told the Texas Tribune. He said he will be searching for “young and progressive” talent to run in mayoral, county commissioner, and other local races in an effort to build a “Democratic bench.”
Democrats have long recognized the success of the Republican Party in winning control of numerous legislatures before the last round of redistricting. However, they have been slow to take action to stop the trend.
When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, Democrats controlled 59 percent of state legislatures. In 2010, Republicans controlled only 14 state legislatures. By the end of Obama’s second term, Democrat control fell to 14 legislatures while Republicans controlled both chambers in 32 states, Reason.com reported. This is the lowest point for Democrats since the beginning of the 20th Century, according to University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics founder, Dr. Eric J. Ostermeier wrote.
Following the gains made in the 2017 Virginia legislature election, Castro hopes to reverse that trend.
“Now Democrats hope to replicate that success across the country,” Fenit Nirapppil wrote in the Washington Post. “Seats in 87 of 99 state legislative chambers are on the ballot in 2018. Republicans currently hold 67 of those chambers, while Democrats hold 32.”
The Texas Tribune asked Castro if his PAC is a precursor to a 2020 presidential bid. Dodging the question, Castro responded, “The thrust of Opportunity First will be to support people who are running in the 2018 cycle. I’m happy to do it.”
“One of the advantages of not running [this cycle] is getting to spend time supporting people who are running, especially in Texas, but also in other states,” he continued.
That would also be a good strategy for building a national political base for a possible presidential bid.
Castro formed the Opportunity First PAC in August 2017, according to information obtained from the Federal Election Commission. The PAC is already supporting one of his former HUD attorneys, Colin Allred, running for the 2018 Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) in the fall.
The PAC also supported two legislative candidates in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly contest.
Castro publicly launched the Opportunity First PAC on Tuesday.