Will Joaquin Castro Challenge John Cornyn After All?

The Democratic congressman is expected to announce his decision this week.

By Rhonda Fanning & Jill AmentApril 30, 2019 7:08 am, ,

Where is Joaquin Castro?  About a month ago, news reports indicated that the U.S. congressman from San Antonio was days away from announcing he would challenge incumbent Sen. John Cornyn. But Castro hasn’t said much since then.

Abby Livingston, Washington bureau chief for The Texas Tribune, says she believes Castro will announce his decision soon, perhaps by Wednesday. She says Democrats, and Castro, in particular, may be realizing just how difficult a challenge to Cornyn could be.

“I’ve covered a lot of races … and you start planning for a Senate race a year in advance, at least,” Livingston says. “So, when all this hubbub was going on in late March, I’m looking at this, going, ‘I don’t see the evidence he’s running for Senate.'”

Livingston says Castro hasn’t taken crucial steps like meeting with Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer about his potential candidacy.

Also, she says Castro has lagged when it comes to fundraising – a problem he shares with his brother, presidential candidate Julián Castro. Julián, a former San Antonio mayor, has only raised $36,000 in the first quarter of this year, Livingston says.

“Someone who’s gearing up for Senate is probably going to raise $500,000-$800,000, and so [Joaquin Castro’s] counter-argument to that was he was occupied helping his brother launch his presidential campaign, starting in January,” Livingston says. “I think maybe some of the political energy has been dispersed.” 

Livingston says there’s a disconnect between Washington Democrats, in general, and those from Texas. She says members of the Texas Democratic House delegation were ready to support Castro if he ran for the Senate seat, but other Washington Democrats were less aware of Castro’s ambitions.

“People were starting to put their names next to him,” Livingston says. “Now, if he doesn’t run, they’re kind of out on a limb, having endorsed him before he even announced.”

MJ Hegar announced last week that she was running for Cornyn’s Senate seat, too. Livingston says Hegar’s bid puts pressure on Castro. Hegar hasn’t yet been endorsed by Emily’s List, the fundraising group that funds female Democrats who support abortion rights. But such an endorsement could happen, and that would put further pressure on Castro, Livingston says.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.