With news that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro may soon be nominated as the next Secretary of Housing & Urban Affairs (HUD), I decided to take a look at a list of previous secretaries. It may be a non-prestigious cabinet post (ranking 13th in the presidential line of succession) but it sure has an impressive roster of former secretaries.
It has been a stepping stone for some. Moon Landrieu spawned a political dynasty in Louisiana, with his son currently serving as mayor of New Orleans and his daughter as one the state’s U.S. senators. Andrew Cuomo is now serving as the governor of New York. Jack Kemp went on to be a vice-presidential candidate, and Mel Martinez became a U.S. Senator for Florida. James T. Lynn and (probably) Shaun Donovan went on to head the Office of Management and Budget. Robert Weaver, the first HUD secretary, was also the first black cabinet member, and Patricia Harris was the first black woman in the cabinet. George Romney capped his public career with a stint heading HUD, and say what you want about Carla Hills and Samuel Pierce, but they were trailblazers for women and blacks in corporate America.
The other secretaries, like Henry Cisneros, Alphonso Jackson, and Steve Preston went on to have impressive careers in business. So, assuming that Julian Castro is confirmed as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs, it is not like he is accepting political oblivion. The position doesn’t confer instant gravitas and put you on everyone’s short list for vice-president, but it doesn’t hurt. It has in the past been a rung on the ladder to higher elected office.
I even wonder, a little bit, if this nomination is being done at the behest of the Clintons, who want to fatten up Castro’s resume for a possible position on the ticket.
[Cross-posted at Booman Tribune]