Former Obama housing director Castro joins race
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.
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.