For­mer HUD Sec­re­tary Cas­tro joins 2020 field

The Mercury News - - News - By Jenna John­son The Wash­ing­ton Post

SAN AN­TO­NIO >> Julián Cas­tro, a for­mer mayor of San An­to­nio who worked in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, an­nounced Satur­day morn­ing that he is join­ing the in­creas­ingly crowded field of can­di­dates for the 2020 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

Cas­tro, 44, has pitched him­self as “the an­ti­dote to Don­ald Trump” who un­der­stands the im­mi­grant ex­pe­ri­ence, bor­der is­sues and the needs of the mid­dle class. If elected, he would be the na­tion’s first Latino pres­i­dent.

“When my grand­mother got here al­most a hun­dred years ago, 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 said, stand­ing in San An­to­nio’s his­toric Plaza Guadalupe.

Cas­tro’s an­nounce­ment was not a sur­prise, as he launched an ex­ploratory com­mit­tee Dec. 12 — and, the next night, his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Cas­tro, DTexas, jok­ingly turned that ex­plo­ration into a full com­mit­ment when the two ap­peared together on CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Col­bert.”

As Col­bert pressed Julián Cas­tro on his 2020 plans, Joaquin Cas­tro jumped in and said: “I’ll speak on his be­half here. He’s go­ing to run for pres­i­dent. How about that? For the FEC lawyers: He didn’t say it! I said it.” (As soon as a can­di­date de­cides to run for pres­i­dent, the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion re­quires that he or she file pa­per­work and be­gin prop­erly re­port­ing the money col­lected and spent.)

Col­bert then coyly said to Julián Cas­tro: “I have heard from some­one very close to you that you are go­ing to run for pres­i­dent.”

Julián Cas­tro laughed and said: “I’m ex­cited. It’s go­ing to be, I think, a great jour­ney. As you know, I think the coun­try needs new lead­er­ship, now more than ever.”

Cas­tro grew up in an ac­tivist fam­ily in San An­to­nio, stud­ied at Stan­ford Univer­sity and Har­vard Law School, and was elected to the San An­to­nio City Coun­cil when he was just 26.

He ran for mayor of San An­to­nio twice, los­ing the first time in 2005 and then win­ning in 2009.

Cas­tro ex­panded prekinder­garten pro­grams in the city and opened Cafe Col­lege, where stu­dents can get help ap­ply­ing to col­lege.

As the youngest mayor of a top U.S. city, Cas­tro quickly at­tracted na­tional at­ten­tion and built re­la­tion­ships with Demo­cratic leaders and fel­low Latino law­mak­ers across the coun­try. Dur­ing a visit to the White House in De­cem­ber 2009, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama joked that he thought the young mayor “was an in­tern.”

Cas­tro was the first Latino to give a key­note speech at a Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion. In his July 2012 speech, Cas­tro told the coun­try about be­ing raised by his sin­gle mother and grand­mother, an im­mi­grant from Mex­ico who dropped out of school in the fourth grade.

He crit­i­cized the Repub­li­can prom­ises of trickle-down eco­nom­ics and ad­vo­cated for pro­grams that help the mid­dle class and fam­i­lies like his, in­clud­ing Pell grants to help pay for col­lege, job cre­ation and pro­tect­ing un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants who came to the coun­try as young chil­dren.

“In the end, the Amer­i­can Dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a re­lay,” Cas­tro said in that speech. “Our fam­i­lies don’t al­ways cross the fin­ish line in the span of one gen­er­a­tion. But each gen­er­a­tion passes on to the next the fruits of their la­bor.”

ERIC GAY — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer San An­to­nio Mayor and Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Julián Cas­tro, cen­ter, greets sup­port­ers Satur­day.

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