For­mer Obama hous­ing chief Julian Castro joins 2020 cam­paign

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - By Paul J. We­ber

SAN AN­TO­NIO >> For­mer Obama Cabi­net mem­ber Julian Castro joined the 2020 pres­i­den­tial race Satur­day as the rush of Democrats mak­ing early moves to chal­lenge Pres­i­dent Don­ald 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 has also started an ex­ploratory com­mit­tee for pres­i­dent, and four other Demo­cratic se­na­tors 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. The im­passe over a bor­der wall that Trump made a cen­tral prom­ise of his 2016 cam­paign has led to the long­est gov­ern­ment shut­down in U.S. his­tory. Trump was at the Texas bor­der on Thurs­day to press his case for a wall that he said would help solve a hu­man­i­tar­ian and se­cu­rity cri­sis at the bor­der.

Join­ing Castro at the cam­paign kick­off was his twin brother, Demo­cratic Rep. Joaquin Castro, chair­man of the His­panic con­gres­sional cau­cus and a fre­quent Trump critic.

The Demo­cratic field is start­ing to take shape even though the first pri­mary elec­tions are more than a year away.

Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia this past week pub­lished a mem­oir , a sta­ple of pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates. For­mer Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is do­ing lit­tle to dim spec­u­la­tion that he might jump into a field that has no clear front-run­ner.

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

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 His­panic 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.

He was on the short list of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s po­ten­tial run­ning mates in 2016. Dur­ing Castro’s trip this past week to Ne­vada, one state Latino busi­ness leader told Castro that he should again be a top con­tender for vice pres­i­dent if his cam­paign falls short.

Like other Democrats run­ning, Castro has said he will not ac­cept money from po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees tied to cor­po­ra­tions and unions, and he has sought to in­tro­duce him­self to vot­ers as a cham­pion for uni­ver­sal health care and af­ford­able hous­ing.

ERIC GAY — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer San An­to­nio Mayor and Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Julian Castro speaks dur­ing an event where he an­nounced his de­ci­sion to seek the 2020 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, Satur­day in San An­to­nio.

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