CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One of the more intriguing side stories of the Democratic National Convention was the presence at and role in the party conclave by big city mayors. Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Texas, won the convention’s heart with his keynote address. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, also considered one of his party’s future leaders, was a key player in bringing the convention to the Tarheel State and delivered the welcoming address.
All told, six mayors had high-profile speaking roles at Barack Obama’s convention, with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa serving as convention chairman.
The conclusion of political pundits on all sides was almost universal: following the shellacking the Democratic Party took in midterm elections for Congress and statehouses in 2010, it is very likely that City Hall will produce the next crop of national Democratic leaders after Obama. The 37-year-old Castro is already being groomed as a potential Democratic candidate for governor or U.S. Senator from Texas. Several Republicans — notably U.S. Senate nominee Ted Cruz — have warned that with the growing population of Hispanics in the Lone Star State, a Republican failure to cultivate this group could lead Texas to return to its Democratic patterns of a generation ago.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who chaired the convention Platform Committee, has shown his independent side by defending Mitt Romney’s business career and voicing support for school vouchers and other fresh approaches to public education. But Booker also presided over the crafting of a decidedly left-of-center party platform, is forgiven these “apostasies” by most Democratic leaders, who see him as a candidate for governor or senator from the Garden State before the decade is out.
Also on hand for a fighting speech was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. No talk of governor or senator soon for this Democrat, who was on the White House staff corps of the men he calls “two great presidents” (Clinton and Obama). Betting was strong at the convention center that, whatever happens to Obama this fall, Emmanuel will try to move from City Hall to the White House in 2016.