Julian Castro Makes It Official: He’s Running For President

The former San Antonio mayor and housing secretary is the most prominent candidate to announce his run.

By Ryan PoppeJanuary 14, 2019 9:30 am

From Texas Public Radio:

Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has entered the 2020 presidential campaign. The Democrat made the announcement over the weekend in his neighborhood in San Antonio’s West side. Castro’s life on those neighborhood streets turned into a journey towards the White House.

Standing in the shadows of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, the church in which he was raised; Castro began his campaign announcement by retracing his own family’s footprint in this neighborhood that stands as one of San Antonio’s oldest Hispanic communities.

“This is a special place for all of us, this West side of San Antonio,” Castro said. “This is the place where my grandmother Victoria came in 1922 when she immigrated from Mexico as a seven year old orphan.  This is the place where my mother became an activist, working to improve the life of her own community.

Castro, during his speech also referenced his mom, Rosie Castro, a one-time member of the La Raza movement, who has her own fan following.

“I bet there are a lot of y’all that have come here to see her, instead of me,” Castro said. “You see I learned from my mother so many years ago in this community and when we want change, we don’t wait for change, we work for it.  When my grandmother got here almost 100-years ago, I’m sure she never could’ve imagined that one of her grandsons would be standing with you here today to say these words, I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.”

Speaking with reporters after her son’s announcement, Rosie Castro was asked why 2020 should be the year America elects its first Latino president.

“Many of us would agree that this president has done everything he can to make Latinos, Mexican-Americans to talk about us in a negative way,” she said. “We don’t believe in that in this country.  I think Julian will be able to bring us back to values that are really American values.”

One of those Castro pointed to in his speech was promising to be the voice for those who feel forgotten by the Trump administration.

“We say no to building a wall and yes to community, we say no to scapegoating immigrants and yes to dreamers, yes to keeping families together, yes to finally passing comprehensive immigration reform in this country,” Castro said.

During my recent interview with Castro at TPR’s studios I asked him how he planned to entice those who may have supported Trump’s candidacy in 2016.

In 2016, that political pendulum of nationalism swung very far in one direction, how do you bring it back just four years later?

“I think it’s swinging back in the other direction now because people realize that immigrants are not the problem in this country whether documented or undocumented,” Castro said. “Being there at the Ursula Processing Center, which is a processing center where they were separating children from their families as part of Trump’s policy, many of the activist there did not have the color of my skin.”

That message of inclusion that was also the central topic of Castro’s announcement speech has been a running theme throughout his political career.

Castro, in 2001 after graduating from Stanford and Harvard Law School, went on to become the youngest city council member in San Antonio’s history. In 2009, Castro was elected mayor of San Antonio and spearheaded community improvement efforts like SA2020, a collective effort of how San Antonians want their city to appear in 2020.

Then in 2012, Castro, as mayor led a $30 million voter-approved tax referendum aimed at providing Pre-K education to anyone in the city, the program was called PreK4SA.

“Here in San Antonio I made PreK4SA happen, as president I will make Pre-K for the USA happen, universal Pre-K for all parents who want it,” Castro said.

Castro, who served as HUD secretary the last two years of the Obama administration, also spoke of some of the housing initiatives he made that are also a part of his presidential campaign.

“In the Obama administration we made ending homelessness a priority, starting with veterans’ homelessness,” Castro said. “And by the time we were done we cut veterans homelessness almost in half and in the years to come we can do that and even more.”

In 2016, Castro found himself on a short list of potential running mates for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Three years later, Castro finds himself on another list, a list that again includes a who’s who cast of prominent Democrats including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, all of whom have either announced an exploratory campaign or hinted at a presidential run.

I asked Castro how to compete in what will likely be a crowded Democratic primary.

“I think you’re right, it’s going to be crowded, we don’t know everyone that’s going to get in but probably a lot of folks,” Castro said. “Look I’ve always believed that you need to give people a sense of your vision and I’m going to go out there and make the case about my vision and my passion and see what happens.”

Castro joins Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and former Maryland Congressman John Delaney who have officially announced their 2020 presidential intentions.

Castro may be the highest-profile name among the candidates that have officially declared, but at this point, there are still months of campaigning, fundraising and primary debates before voters figure out what the Democratic ticket will look like in 2020.