Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in San Antonio last fall
Julián Castro, the secretary of housing and urban development and a San Antonio native, is reportedly on the short list to be Hillary Clinton's running mate.
Castro, 41, has been called a rising star in the Democratic party, and it is no surprise that he's a potential contender for vice president. Here are a few things to know about his background as the search heats up:
1. He has an identical twin brother, Joaquin, who is a politician, too.
Vogue called the identical twin Castro brothers a "pair of aces" for the Democratic Party. They are practically indistinguishable from each other, but they explained Julián "is the older one" and Joaquin is "the good-looking one."
Joaquin is a U.S. congressman representing San Antonio in the House and a former member of the Texas House.
2. They once failed at swapping places for a parade.
In 2012, Julián, then a candidate for San Antonio mayor, and Joaquin, a state representative, were both scheduled to be aboard a decorated barge in the city's River Parade.
But, Julián had a scheduling conflict, so Joaquin was the lone Castro on the boat with the San Antonio City Council members.
The Associated Press reported that as many as 250,000 people gathered along the River Walk to watch the barges float by and many onlookers thought Joaquin was Julián.
"We can't help that we look like each other," Julián told The Associated Press during the twin-gate fallout. "When he was waving, they would say, 'Julián,' and he would say, 'No, it's Joaquin,' but you can't really yell at 200,000 people along the route."
The parade announcer, Bob Guthrie, told San Antonio radio station WOAI that the materials he was given showed Julián Castro listed as a passenger, not his brother, so that is who he announced to the crowd.
3. He became mayor of San Antonio at 30, and the youngest member of the Obama Cabinet at 39.
Castro was elected to the San Antonio City Council in 2001. He first ran for mayor in 2005 and was defeated by Phil Hardberger. He won his mayoral race in 2009 and was re-elected in 2011 and 2013. He could have run for mayor one more time, but San Antonio mayors have a term limit of four two-year terms.
In May 2014, President Barack Obama nominated him to be the secretary of housing and urban development; the Senate confirmed his appointment in July 2014 with a 71-26 vote.
4. And Republicans (and some Democrats) say he's too inexperienced to be vice president.
Even with his meteoric rise, the 41-year-old Castro is considered by some to be too green for the job. Five years as mayor and two years as a Cabinet secretary is a relatively thin resume for a vice presidential candidate — and notably, he lacks foreign policy experience.
"The hype about Secretary Castro may be a mile wide, but his policy substance is an inch deep," Amelia Chassé, a spokeswoman for a conservative group, America Rising PAC, told the Texas Tribune. "Secretary Clinton has stated her 'top priority' for a vice president is readiness to be commander-in-chief, so by that definition alone, Castro is disqualified."
Some Democrats worry that Castro lacks the relationship with Congress that previous vice presidents, including Vice President Joe Biden, have had with congressional staffs.
Supporters argue that no one better represents the American dream.
"He's the West Side kid who went to the Ivy leagues, came home and not only did well, but changed the trajectory of the city," Diego Bernal, a state lawmaker who has known Castro since he was 10, told the Tribune. "Find me another person anywhere who's done that and I'll shake their hand."
The Tribune notes that most vice presidential candidates have spent over a decade as a U.S. senator, U.S. representative, governor or other high officer in the executive branch, according to Joel Goldstein, a professor at St. Louis University who studies the vice presidency.
5. He is the son of a Chicana activist.
Politics runs in the Castro family. The twins' mother, Rosie, was a member of La Raza Unida, a third party in the 1970s that campaigned for better housing, work and educational opportunities for Mexican-Americans.
"That wasn't radical — that was the promise of America," she told the San Antonio Express-News in 2012.
Rosie, the daughter of an orphaned Mexican immigrant, registered voters, identified candidates for office, walked blocks to talk to voters, ran campaigns and was the Bexar County chairwoman for the party.
Rosie met her sons' father, Jesse Guzman, a retired high school math teacher, while she was advocating for better education and better city services on San Antonio's west side.
"We were soul mates in a lot of ways because we were both in the movement," Rosie told the Express-News.
Rosie and Guzman never married and separated when the twins were 8 years old.
6. He credits affirmative action for getting him into Stanford.
The Castro brothers graduated from Jefferson High School in San Antonio and then were off to Stanford University, then Harvard for law school.
"Joaquin and I got into Stanford because of affirmative action," Julián told The New York Times Magazine in 2010. "I scored 1,210 on my SATs, which was lower than the median matriculating student. But I did fine in college and in law school. So did Joaquin. I'm a strong supporter of affirmative action because I've seen it work in my own life."
He majored in political science and communications and in his junior year tied his brother for the most votes in the student senate election.
7. He worked as a White House intern in 1994.
Castro's only interaction with then-President Bill Clinton was during a photo session.
8. He's been called the 'Latino Obama.'
Castro and Obama have many similarities ― both are Harvard Law graduates, were raised by single mothers and started their political careers in the grassroots and community organizing.
Both gained notice giving a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Obama in 2004, Castro in 2012.
"I won't be presumptuous enough to put me and my family on the same level as the president and his family," Castro told CNN Money. "I believe that, for minorities in general, watching the president and his family and how close they are and what a good example they have set has been inspirational to so many of us."
9. "Julián Castro has a very good chance of becoming the first Hispanic president of the United States."
Said George W. Bush adviser Mark McKinnon to The New York Times in 2010.
10. He's been a longtime supporter of LGBT rights.
He was the first San Antonio mayor to serve as the grand marshal of the city's Pride Parade in 2009 and in 2011 lead a push to offer domestic partner benefits in the city, which passed on an 8-3 vote in the City Council.
In 2012, he joined with mayors across the country signing the "Mayors for the Freedom to Marry" petition for same-sex marriage equality.
He was criticized by a Christian radio talk show for participating in San Antonio Pride.
"To equate lesbians and gays with something immoral is just wrong," he said in response.
11. He gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
Castro shared his personal narrative as a third-generation Mexican-American with the crowd gathered in Charlotte, N.C. He spoke about his grandmother, an orphan who left Mexico for San Antonio, and his mother, who taught herself to read and write in both English and Spanish and worked to send her sons to school so they could make something of themselves.
"My family's story isn't special," Castro said. "What's special is the America that makes our story possible."
His speech focused on how investing in educational opportunities for young people creates prosperity for businesses and the economy as they grow and establish themselves.
"In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay," he said. "Our families don't always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor."
Watch the full speech here:
12. But his daughter totally stole the show with her hair flips.
Castro's daughter Carina, now 7 years old, was seated next to his wife, Erica Lira, an education consultant, during the DNC speech. The camera flipped to their box as Castro spoke about his hopes for his daughter's generation.
She did then what any 3-year-old would do: she flipped her hair back and forth for the world to see.
Buzzfeed did everyone a favor and set the C-SPAN footage to Willow Smith's hit single "Whip My Hair."
The Castros also have a son, Cristián Julián Castro, who was born in December 2014.
13. He led a ballot initiative to provide quality pre-kindergarten to thousands of kids in San Antonio
As mayor, Castro made improving the quality of education in San Antonio a priority. He convened a task force that recommended the city expand pre-kindergarten services for 4-year-olds.
In November 2012, voters approved the initiative to increase sales tax to pay for thenew pre-kindergarten centers.
"Today, San Antonio said very clearly that we're not just thinking about the next two years — we're thinking about the next 20 years," Castro told supporters the night the initiative passed.
Classrooms are filled with the a plethora of educational tools and new technologies to support teachers, but the program also engages with parents and extended families to encourage their children's development.
"We service a community that has historically been marginalized. We try to make this a welcome table of education," Luti Vela-Gude, a family specialist at one of the four pre-K centers in San Antonio told The Atlantic in March.
14. You won't find his memoir in stores.
The New York Times has previously reported that Castro would rent hotel rooms out of town to work on his memoir. It was expected to be published in 2015, but he had to put on hold after he was appointed housing secretary. Cabinet rules prohibit him from working on it while in office.
15. Progressive groups say his HUD policies are selling homes to Wall Street.
In April, a coalition of progressive groups emailed petitions to several million people attacking Castro's handling of mortgage sales and launched a website,DontSellOurHomesToWallStreet.org, Politico reported.
HUD says the program in question, the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program, was started in 2010 to allow mortgages headed toward foreclosure to be sold to "qualified bidders and encourages them to work with borrowers to help bring the loan out of default."
The groups say the current policy amounts to a "fire sale for Wall Street firms." They believe the mortgages should instead be sold to nonprofits and groups focused on involving the communities surrounding the properties.
HUD officials told Politico that the number of mortgages sold to nonprofits has increased and that Castro has continued to meet with advocates to continue improving the policy.
Experts have said those attacking Castro's policies are misinterpreting the realities of the mortgage situation.
"The only way to help these borrowers is to sell the loans. You don't have any other buyers big enough in size," Laurie Goodman, the director of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute, told Politico. "Even if you wanted to do something different, you couldn't."
16. He's been criticized for not speaking Spanish.
Castro is not a native Spanish speaker. Rosie Castro spoke English at home with her sons and Julián studied Latin and Japanese in school. Joaquin studied Latin and German.
Some have argued that Castro's assimilation into the English-speaking American culture may hinder his appeal to Latino voters. Sen. Tim Kaine from Virginia, another possible Clinton vice-presidential contender and a white man, does speak fluent Spanish after living as a missionary in Honduras.
It is common for Mexican-Americans who have lived in Texas for multiple generations to not speak Spanish.
"I'm not sure if you are supposed to be shamed into some sort of apology that you don't [speak Spanish] ... It's expected of us and I don't think we should have that expectation. As you move forward in the generations we are no different than those groups that come from this country," former U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez of Texas told NBC News this month when asked about Castro's vice presidential potential.
The New York Times reported in 2010: "Early in his administration [as mayor], Castro assigned his chief of staff, Robbie Greenblum — a Jewish lawyer from the border town of Laredo whose own Spanish is impeccable — to discreetly find him a tutor. Rosie Castro's son is now being taught Spanish by a woman named Marta Bronstein. Greenblum met her in shul."
Joaquin told Vogue in 2013 that he was listening to Spanish tapes sent to him by fellow Texan Eva Longoria. Julián told the magazine he fantasizes about spending a year in Latin America.
"I've resolved that before I die, I want to speak it fluently," Castro told Vogue.
If he doesn't win the veepstakes, he'll be out of a job. If he doesn't decide to run for a higher office, he may have time to plan that year abroad.