With San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro's confirmation to head the Housing and Urban Development Department, another one of President Obama's Cabinet choices has upended yet another state's political future.
By picking current elected officials for his team, Obama has helped make Kirsten Gillibrand a national figure, handed Republicans the keys to government in Arizona, and indirectly put a felon in charge of Charlotte, N.C.
Tapping elected politicians for the Cabinet is nothing new, but Obama has done it at a notable pace, plucking three senators, two governors, a House member, and two mayors from their posts since 2009. By adding Castro—one of Texas and Hispanic Democrats' leading lights—to that list, Obama has once again inserted himself into a state's political evolution, with unknowable consequences.
So far, the biggest results have come from Obama's selection of Hillary Clinton to head his State Department in 2009. Not only did that move set up the contours of the nascent 2016 presidential election, it created a new Democratic star. Before then-Gov. David Paterson of New York appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to succeed Clinton in the Senate, Gillibrand was a Blue Dog Democrat in the House with an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, a hard-line position on immigration, and a purple upstate district that she could well have lost the next year, in the 2010 Republican wave election.