Democrats Keynote Speaker Is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro headlines the first night of the 2012 DNC.

ByABC News
September 3, 2012, 3:12 PM

Sept. 4, 2012 -- The Democrats will open their convention tonight with a keynote speaker who is young, Hispanic and little known outside of his home city of San Antonio, Texas.

For Mayor Julian Castro, 37, tonight could be a spring board to national prominence. It was eight years ago when another little known speaker, then-state senator Barack Obama, gave the keynote at that year's Democratic National Convention.

And the Democrats hope that featuring Castro, the youngest mayor of any top 50 U.S. city, as their keynote speaker will help the Obama campaign in their battle for Hispanic votes.

Castro's biography is one of ambition, charisma and early success.

He was introduced to politics at an early age by his mother, Rosie, who was part of a movement in Texas that fought for Mexican American civil rights.

Castro, along with his identical twin brother Joaquin, received his undergraduate education at Stanford University and then went onto Harvard Law School.

He moved quickly from Harvard into politics. At age 26 he was elected city councilman in San Antonio, the youngest city councilman in the city's history. He was elected mayor in 2009 at the age of 34 and won reelection last year with more than 80 percent of San Antonio's vote.

He may be largely unknown outside of Texas politics, but within that world he has made a name for himself and garnered respect from both sides of the aisle. Former George W. Bush adviser Mark McKinnon has been quoted as saying that Castro "has a very good chance of becoming the first Hispanic president of the United States."

In their effort to court Hispanic voters, the Democrats have also appointed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to chair the convention.

Hispanics have become a coveted voting group in this year's election. The Republicans also featured Hispanic speakers at their convention in Tampa last week with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez given primetime slots at the podium. And Mitt Romney's son, Craig, briefly addressed the convention in fluent Spanish.

In 2008 Hispanics made up 9 percent of the voting population. President Obama carried that group with 67 percent of the vote, compared to John McCain's 31 percent. The Obama campaign is hoping to at least match, if not exceed that figure this time around.