This past week saw the official mud-slinging begin between U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett and state Rep. Joaquin Castro, who may be battling it out in the newly proposed 35th Congressional District come the March Democratic primary. Should the federal courts decide that the newly drawn district, which includes a smidgen of Austin and a whole lot of Bexar County, is constitutional, Doggett will find himself in a tough spot with a large part of his new constituency being from San Antonio—Castro’s home turf. Castro is one half of what I like to call the wonder twins (his brother being San Antonio mayor Julian Castro) and, as far as I can tell, those boys can do no wrong in their hometown. So what does Doggett do as an early defensive move?
Last Wednesday, former Doggett Outreach Director John Michael Vincent Cortez, wrote a scathing accusation on the Burnt Orange Report blog stating that Castro was in cahoots with Republicans in redrawing the district to his advantage:
At the recent trial in Federal Court in San Antonio, Republicans actually used Castro’s involvement as part of their defense against Democratic claims that this redistricting plan is illegal. Republicans essentially said: “Hey, it was not Republicans alone who drew this map to which you Democrats are objecting, we were just following the advice of Democratic state Rep. Castro (and his friend, Redistricting Committee Vice Chair Rep. Mike Villarreal).” Castro wanted this crooked district carving up neighborhoods in San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Lockhart and Austin. Then he asked that this area be carved up a little more to add what he thought would be even more favorable additional territory in San Antonio along with symbolic locations like the Alamo.
To accuse one half of the Texas Democratic Party’s New Brown Hope of such partisan treason is downright brazen.
Cue Castro’s response via a letter sent to the Joaquin Castro for Congress email list on Friday entitled “Desperate attacks require a direct response.” The letter included a video posted to Youtube featuring Castro talking to the camera, accusing Doggett of flat-out lying to keep his job:
“For several weeks now, my opponent Lloyd Doggett and his surrogates have spread false rumors about my record in redistricting. He’s so worried about losing his job, that he’s spreading conspiracy theory rumors about me working with the Republicans to draw him out of a job.”
On Monday, Republican House Redistricting Committee lawyer Ryan Downton, whose testimony in San Antonio federal court last month was the basis for Doggett’s accusations against Castro, clarified that the discussions with Castro and state Rep. Mike Villarreal, (D-San Antonio) came after legislative leaders agreed that District 35 should run from Austin to San Antonio. Downton emphasized that Castro did nothing improper, reiterating what Castro maintains, that his only interest was securing a Latino opportunity district based in Bexar County. Mind you, this is coming from a guy who sees absolutely nothing wrong with running for his own political spot in a district he helped draw.
All this and we’re still five months from the March primary. The Castro-Doggett race could get very ugly.