Ex-housing secretary declares 2020 run
Julián Castro, former housing secretary and former mayor of San Antonio, announced Saturday he would run for president, one of the most high-profile Latino Democrats ever to seek the party’s nomination.
His first campaign stop will be in Puerto Rico, where he will speak Monday at the Latino Victory Fund’s annual summit and meet with residents still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria. Later in the week, his campaign said, he will go to New Hampshire.
“When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago,” Castro said at the Plaza Guadalupe amphitheater in San Antonio, “I’m sure that she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.”
Castro joins Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former state Sen. Richard Ojeda of West Virginia and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland on the list of Democrats who have said definitively they will seek the party’s 2020 nomination. That list is expected to grow considerably over time.
In his speech Saturday, Castro emphasized education, calling for a national version of the universal prekindergarten program he established in San Antonio when he was mayor.
To fund the program there, he increased the city’s sales tax — a politically risky proposition, but San Antonio voters approved it.
His message was firmly progressive. He called for a higher minimum wage, denounced police killings of African-Americans, which he described as “state violence,” and embraced the Black Lives Matter movement. He also condemned President Donald Trump’s immigration policy, including the practice of family separation and the proposed border wall, and declared that his first executive order if elected would be to rejoin the Paris climate accords, which Trump left.
George Rodriguez, a conservative blogger whom Texas Republican leaders designated as their spokesman on the announcement, said Castro did not “seem to be able to distinguish between legal and illegal immigation.”
Rodriguez also argued that the San Antonio pre-K program, which was one of Castro’s chief accomplishments as mayor, had duplicated existing programs like Head Start. “How much of an accomplishment that is is rather dubious,” he said.
Former San Antonio Mayor and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro speaks during an event Saturday in San Antonio where he announced his decision to seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.