A nationwide search is on for the Latinobama. With the country's largest minority on its way to representing one-third of the U.S. population by 2050, many are speculating about who might be the first Latino president.
Here's the winning formula: Someone who inspires Latinos without threatening non-Latinos, who appreciates one's ethnic background without feeling limited by it, and who isn't bitter over how Latinos have been treated but also doesn't gloss over that fact in order to be accepted.
For those who think that what started Barack Obama in politics was his election as president of the Harvard Law Review, the natural choice is 25-year-old Andrew Manuel Crespo -- a recent graduate of Harvard Law School and the first Latino president of the law review.
Marilinda Garcia, 26, a Republican, was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2006. She's a graduate of Tufts University and a student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
I'd put my money on it being someone named Castro from San Antonio.
Julian Castro is the 34-year-old newly elected mayor of San Antonio. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law, the Democrat previously served on the San Antonio City Council for four years. His twin brother, Joaquin, who graduated from the same schools, is a Texas state representative.
Both Castros were compared to Obama in a newspaper article as early as May 2005. The brothers are protégés of Henry Cisneros, the former San Antonio mayor and secretary of housing and urban development, who has become a consigliere to a new generation of Latino leaders.
I asked Julian Castro how he related to his ethnic background, and how he thought his experience compared to that of earlier generations.
"I was able to get through my education and get into the working world without feeling the sting of discrimination," he said, "understanding that it's not completely gone but seeing the glass as half-full and not half-empty, and understanding that people of all different backgrounds can work well together."
In fact, he said, while he's proud of his ethnicity, it doesn't define him.
"There are a lot of experiences that shape how I think about my agenda for San Antonio," he said, "the fact that I'm relatively young, the fact that I went away to school, that I'm a young father, that I'm a lawyer. So there are experiences that tug on me that are just as significant, if not more, than my ethnicity."
As for earlier generations of Latinos, both Castros seem to have an understanding of what their achievements represent.
"I think there's a certain pride that is there," Julian Castro said. "I think that my success and my brother's success was exactly the kind of thing they were working for their whole lives. They want to see young people get well-educated and accomplish things and be leaders in their business community and in government."
For Joaquin Castro, one of the things he wants to accomplish as a state legislator is to improve public education so that experiences like his are more common. In a recent speech at a conference of Latino elected officials in Los Angeles, he talked about making schools more accountable and revamping the guidance counseling system.
Both Castros seem in sync with San Antonio.
"It's a city that has been built up by people from different cultures and backgrounds over centuries," Julian Castro said. "And it's a place where people from different backgrounds work well together. They live together in a way that doesn't happen in too many other big American cities. There's harmony here. We're also a city that looks like the future of Texas and the nation demographically."
I asked Julian Castro what he hopes to accomplish as mayor.
"I'd like to focus on economic growth and creating job opportunities," he noted. "Second is enhancing the quality of life here, giving vibrancy to the city. Then we're going to raise the profile. It's the seventh largest city in the United States. But, in some ways, it's invisible in the national conversation about cities that are going places."
In time, we'll see if San Antonio is really going places. But, with Texas slowly turning into a blue state and plenty of statewide offices coming open in the next few years, the Castro brothers are already on their way.
Navarrette's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE