For­mer Obama hous­ing direc­tor Cas­tro joins race

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - NATION - By Paul J. We­ber

SAN AN­TO­NIO — Ju­lian Cas­tro, a vet­eran of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, joined the 2020 pres­i­den­tial race Satur­day as the rush of Democrats mak­ing early moves to chal­lenge Pres­i­dent Trump ac­cel­er­ates, while an­tic­i­pa­tion grows around big­ger names still con­sid­er­ing a White House run.

“I’m run­ning for pres­i­dent be­cause it’s time for new lead­er­ship, be­cause it’s time for new en­ergy and it’s time for a new com­mit­ment to make sure that the op­por­tu­ni­ties that I’ve had are avail­able to ev­ery Amer­i­can,” he told cheer­ing sup­port­ers.

Cas­tro, who could end up be­ing the only Latino in what is shap­ing up to be a crowded Demo­cratic field, of­fi­cially kicked off his cam­paign with a rally in his home­town of San An­to­nio, where he was mayor for five years. The ex-hous­ing sec­re­tary be­came the sec­ond Demo­crat to for­mally en­ter race, af­ter for­mer Mary­land Rep. John De­laney.

Sen. El­iz­abeth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts also has started an ex­ploratory com­mit­tee for pres­i­dent, and four other Demo­cratic sen­a­tors — in­clud­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s Ka­mala Har­ris — are tak­ing steady steps to­ward run­ning. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gab­bard, the first Hindu elected to Congress, is plan­ning a bid, too.

Cas­tro, the 44-year-old grand­son of a Mex­i­can im­mi­grant, made the cam­paign an­nounce­ment at Plaza Guadalupe on San An­to­nio’s mid­dle-class west side, less than 200 miles from the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

Cas­tro is aware he lacks the name recog­ni­tion of po­ten­tial 2020 ri­vals or the buzz sur­round­ing for­mer Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, whose flir­ta­tions with 2020 have tan­ta­lized donors and ac­tivists af­ter a close race last year against Sen. Ted Cruz, RTexas.

But Cas­tro, who has re­peat­edly dis­missed talk that an O’Rourke can­di­dacy would com­pli­cate his own chances, has framed the neigh­bor­hood and his up­bring­ing as the story of an un­der­dog.

Cas­tro was raised by a lo­cal Latina ac­tivist. Af­ter a brief ca­reer in law, he was elected mayor of the na­tion’s sev­enth-largest city at 34. It wasn’t long be­fore Democrats na­tion­ally em­braced him as a star in the mak­ing, par­tic­u­larly one from Texas, where a boom­ing Latino pop­u­la­tion is rapidly chang­ing the state’s de­mo­graph­ics and im­prov­ing the party’s for­tunes.

Cas­tro de­liv­ered the key­note speech at the 2012 Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion. Two years later, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama picked him to lead the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment.

Paul J. We­ber is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

Billy Calzada / Hearst News­pa­pers

Ju­lian Cas­tro an­nounces his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign at a rally in his home­town of San An­to­nio. He led the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

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