Via Cincinnatus at The Jeffersonian, I learned this morning that the front-running mayoral candidate here in San Antonio is in a bit of hot water as a result of an "appearance" at a Fiesta event earlier this week:
People watching the River Parade on Monday may have thought they were seeing mayoral candidate Julián Castro waving as the San Antonio City Council barge floated down the waterway.
But if they did, they were wrong.
Julián Castro was hosting a neighborhood association meeting that night in District 7, which he still represents. His identical twin brother, Joaquin Castro, was on the boat.
The situation smacked of politicking, said Carroll Schubert, the District 9 city councilman who also is running for mayor.
"When people were yelling 'Julián, Julián,' (Joaquin) was waving madly, and when they announced all of us as council members, he was also waving," Schubert said.
"I think it's deceitful and showed very poor judgment."
Castro said members of the City Council frequently bring family members along on the barge ride, and Joaquin "always" goes along with his councilman brother. But, he added, the two brothers never pretend to be each other.
"Joaquin could never impersonate me. He's not good looking enough," Castro joked.
Unlike Cincinnatus, I don't think this was underhanded, and I don't think it is a big deal, because I do not believe that Castro set out to deceive anyone.
Julian Castro is the clear frontrunner now, just a couple weeks out from the election, and would have to be politically stupid to pull such a stunt, especially right in front of Schubert, one of his two opponents. So I actually believe Castro's explanation:
“My brother campaigned for me; he doesn’t campaign as me,” said the mayoral hopeful at the news conference.
He says he planned on going to the parade but attended a neighborhood meeting instead. He says word of his absence failed to get to the announcer, who told the crowd Julián was on board.
Now, with his brother at his side, he finds some humor in looking alike and yet different. They pointed out that Julián has more hair, Joaquin wears his shirts a little baggier, and Julián is five pounds heavier.
“We just hope that everybody understands that we are twins, God made us that way, and our mother is glad to have us that way. It is one of the blessings in life to have a twin, but we never impersonate each other.”
Both of Castro's opponents have leaped on this incident, judging from quotes in the press. In the article above, Schubert calls Castro's alleged behavior "deceitful" and says it "showed very poor judgement," while in a CNN article Hardberger is paraphrased as calling it dishonest and deceptive. But such attacks are to be expected of trailing candidates, and are not evidence of anything, in my opinion.
As best I can tell, this was an honest misunderstanding. The brothers normally attend the event together. One couldn't make it. The announcer didn't get the information. If the non-candidate brother didn't happen to look very similar to the candidate brother, this would never have been a story.
UPDATE: For completeness, I should add that at this point I have no strong preference between Julian Castro and Phil Hardberger in the race for mayor. My only preference is that one of those two, and not Carroll Schubert, win.