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Could HUD Secretary Julián Castro become president after the SOTU address?

The State of the Union 'designated survivor'

January 12, 2016

In what may seem like a scene from White House Down come to life, there is a chance that tomorrow Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro could be the president of the United States of America.

While we hope the chances of this happening are incredibly slim (considering the doomsday scenario that would precipitate it) millions of Americans are desperately clinging to a one in 292.2 million chance that they could score the Powerball jackpot, so anything is possible.

For added perspective on how crazy your lottery chances are, an article in the New York Times said, “The odds of being struck by lightning this year are one in 1.19 million, making it about 246 times as likely as winning the Powerball jackpot. With an estimated one in 12,500 chance, an amateur golfer is about 23,376 times as likely to make a hole in one.”

Still, the chance that Castro, or anyone else in the presidential cabinet, could be president after President Obama’s final State of the Union address tonight is great enough for the White House to have an official plan to prepare for it.

This special position/person is known as the “designated survivor.”

This article from ABC News puts it best and gives you everything you need to know about the state of the union designated survivor.

From ABC News:

During President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, most of our nation’s leaders in government -- members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices and almost all of the president’s cabinet -- will cram into the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives to hear the commander-in-chief outline his 2015 agenda.

Security, of course, will be tight. But if the unthinkable happens -- the Capitol is attacked, wiping out everyone inside the chamber -- there’s one cabinet secretary surrounded by Secret Service agents somewhere else, waiting in the wings to become president.

Here’s where the possibility of Castro being the next president comes in.

For starters, former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan was the designated survivor for President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address.

The ABC News article explains, “Selected by the White House chief of staff, the designated survivor is a cabinet-level official who spends the evening away from the Capitol, ready to take the reins if everyone above him in the presidential line of succession dies in a crisis at the House chamber.”

The identity of the survivor is generally kept secret until the day of the address, and while it makes sense, that secrecy leaves open the possibility that it's Castro.

What we do know, according to the article, is that the designated survivor tends to be lower-ranking in the line of succession.

Also, slightly increasing the odds of Castro being president, the articles states:

As secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell would normally be eighth in the line of presidential succession. But because she was born in the United Kingdom, she isn't eligible to be president and therefore would never be tapped as the designated survivor.

Castro’s schedule does say that he will be attending the State of the Union Address tonight, but, going back to that security measure, I doubt they would say beforehand that he isn’t. His public schedule does include the note “all times local; information and schedule are subject to change.”

And for the ultimate conspiracy theory, I will add that Julian Castro does have an identical twin, Joaquin Castro, D-TX, and could easily pull off a Queen Amidala move and send in a decoy to the SOTU.

 

With Julian this week as he started as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

A photo posted by Rep. Joaquin Castro (@joaquincastrotx) on

Of course, it doesn’t help that Julian Castro has spent most of today tweeting about the SOTU address, likely canceling out all of this.

President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address tonight at 9pm EST. 

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