Julian Castro Ends Presidential Bid
Another one bites the dust.
Former San Antonio, Texas Mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro announced today that he was ending his bid for the Presidency:
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro announced Thursday he is ending his campaign for president.
“I’ve determined that it simply isn’t our time,” Castro said in a video, citing “the circumstances of this campaign season.”
In a tweet announcing his decision, he added: “It’s with profound gratitude to all of our supporters that I suspend my campaign for president today. I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. I’m going to keep fighting for an America where everyone counts—I hope you’ll join me in that fight.”
Castro ending his bid leaves the Democratic primary field without a Latino candidate, and his exit comes one month before the Iowa caucuses.
The Obama-era housing secretary and former mayor of San Antonio launched his campaign last January but struggled to gain traction in the crowded Democratic field. His only notable congressional endorsements came from his brother, campaign chairman and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro, as well as freshman Texas Rep. Colin Allred, who worked for Castro at HUD and received early backing from Castro during his 2018 race.
Castro often distinguished himself as the “first” candidate and sought to move the field left on a host of issues — including by visiting Flint, Mich., and Puerto Rico on the trail; releasing policies on immigration, indigenous communities and lead exposure; and supporting the impeachment of President Donald Trump. He also made waves by calling for the decriminalization of illegal border crossings, a position he was later followed on by some others in thefield.But Castro rarely received attention for jumping out in front.
Still, Castro says in Thursday’s video, “I’m so proud of the campaign we’ve run together. We’ve shaped the conversation on so many important issues in this race, stood up for the most vulnerable people and given a voice to those who are often forgotten.”
He grew his small operation — for a time, his communications shop was run solely by a senior aide — into a campaign that qualified for four nationally televised debates, and he outlasted senators, congressmen and current and former governors. But he was unable to seriously compete with the top tier of candidates, some of whom began the race with higher name identification, built-out email lists and well-stocked campaign treasuries from past elections.
Castro made no immediate mention of throwing his support behind one of his former rivals, and did not outline his immediate plans. But “I’m not done fighting,” he vows in the video, adding that “I’ll keep working towards a nation where everyone counts, a nation where everyone can get a good job, good health care and a decent place to live.”
Castro is the latest candidate of color to end their presidential campaign, following Sen. Kamala Harris’ exit last month, and his departure is sure to revive concerns about diversity in the Democratic primary — he was extremely vocal in criticizing the way minority candidates are covered and treated on the day that Harris dropped out.
Harris cited fundraising struggles as part of her decision to exit the race, an issue Castro alluded to as well when he issued a plea to voters earlier in the fall warning that that his campaign would be “silenced for good” unless it could raise $800,000 in 10 days.
While Castro’s rivals lamented his departure from the race, Sen. Cory Booker directly referenced the racial dynamic in a fundraising email Thursday, expressing regret that Castro would become “yet another person of color exiting a field of candidates that began as the most diverse in our nation’s history.” He called Castro’s unsuccessful bid “a loss for our party and this nominating process.”
He also took shots at the multiple billionaires who threw their hats into the ring late and have poured close to $200 million of their personal fortunes into their bids. “Here’s the reality,” Booker wrote. “It seems like billionaires with bottomless checkbooks have a clearer path to the nomination than talented, experienced, qualified candidates” like Castro.
Here’s Castro’s tweet:
it was just under a year ago that Castro, who had been rumored to be considering a run for the White House for much of 2018, entered the race for President. At the time there were many who believe that his strong support from the Latino community in Texas would translate into something nationwide, but that never took place. Additionally, while he was able to qualify for four of the six debates that have taken place to date, he failed to make much of an impression with voters, a fact that was evidenced by his lack of support in polling at the national and state levels. Given that, his departure from the race isn’t much of a surprise.
To be honest, there was a time when I thought that Castro would become a more serious contender than he ultimately did. Unlike his fellow Texan and Latino candidate Beto O’Rourke, Castro seemed like a candidate with serious ideas and a resume to match. Unlike O’Rourke, he did not come across as a flash in the pan famous mainly for the fact that he lost a high-profile Senate race to a guy that even many Republicans dislike. For whatever reason, though, he was never able to break through the noise even when he did make a mark. As noted above, his most notable moment on the national stage came when he took on O’Rourke in a manner that demonstrated that the former Congressman’s campaign, which itself ended months ago, was largely an exercise in vanity.
That being said, I have to agree with the assessment of Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel:
This will serve Castro well in the future, which is largely wide open. At 45, he’s still relatively young and potentially could be a candidate for Vice-President for the right Presidential nominee. If that’s not an option, then he could decide to run statewide in Texas or to join his brother in Congress. Had he dropped out earlier, he would have been considered a potential challenger to Senator John Cornyn, but the deadline to enter that race expired a month ago so it’s too late for that. Additionally, if a Democrat wins the White House in November he will no doubt once again be on the shortlist for consideration for a Cabinet position. As far as the Presidential bid goes, though, we’ve come to the end of the road for yet another candidate.