Latino Politicos to Watch: Marco Rubio & Julian Castro

Political fervor is at an all-time high today with people heading to the polls for Election Day. We wanted to step back and take a look at two Latinos who have been making waves on either side of aisle in American politics. Julian Castro, the young mayor of San Antonio has been hailed as "the next Obama" by some in Democratic circles. While Marco Rubio has managed to shake up the current senate race by galvanizing the Tea party movement in Florida where he is facing off against Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meeks.

Marco Rubio

Rubio grew up as the son of Cuban exiles in Miami. He is fluent in Spanish and was raised Roman Catholic. After earning his law degree cum laude from the University of Miami in 1996, Rubio was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. Rubio became the Speaker of the House from 2006-2008. He is currently running a hotly contested three-way race against Republican turned independent Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meeks. Although he has since attempted to distance himself from the Tea Party movement, Rubio aggressively courted the extreme right conservative vote during his primary campaign. He believes in lowering government spending, repealing the new health care bill and was quoted saying that the Department of Justice's lawsuit against SB 1070 was a "waste of resources." He also opposed Elena Kagan's supreme court nomination, stem cell research and same-sex marriage. He supports banning homosexuals from military service and said recently that he would vote to extend the Bush tax cuts, even for high earners.

The Republican Party is excited about Rubio's future prospects. "Although this will undoubtedly sound premature to some, I believe that if Marco Rubio goes on to win the U.S. Senate seat in Florida in November, he should immediately think about running for president—possibly in 2012," said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Julian Castro

Castro was born to a political family in San Antonio. His mother Rosie was an activist in the 1960's, fighting for civil rights. He earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and went on to attend Harvard Law School alongside his twin brother Joaquin, who is now a Texas state representative. Castro was on the City Council from 2001-2005 before winning the 2009 mayoral election in his hometown.

Castro is being watched closely because San Antonio is an interesting predictor of what the future of the United States could look like. With over 60% of the total population in San Antonio identifying as Hispanic or Latino, the city is a reflection of larger population trends across the country. Castro is the youngest mayor of any top 50 city in the United States. Although not involved in any campaigning in the 2010 election, Castro has been vocal about the perception of Latinos and immigration. "Latinos have been used as a piñata or political football in this election," Castro told the BBC. "But I'm hopeful that after the rhetoric has subsided a little bit we'll have a window of opportunity where sensible, comprehensive immigration reform can happen."

Although Castro won't speak on any further political ambitions beyond San Antonio, saying he got into politics to solve "municipal" problems, there is no doubt that he wants to appeal not only to Latinos, but also to the population at large.