And then there were… how many? I’m already starting to lose track. The parade of Democrats hoping for the chance to take on Donald Trump in 2020 just grew larger yet again. The next entrant will be competing with Beto O’Rourke for donations from his home state because Julian Castro is also from Texas. This announcement was about as surprising as the sun rising in the east and it was delivered with very little fanfare. (NBC News)
Julián Castro, a former U.S. Cabinet secretary, launched his presidential campaign in the hometown where he served as mayor for three terms. The announcement surprised few, but puts him near the front of what is expected to be a jam-packed field of White House hopefuls.
Making the announcement at Plaza Guadalupe in the San Antonio’s West Side neighborhood where he grew up, Castro said in English and Spanish that he is running for president.
The grandson of an immigrant from Mexico, Castro said his grandmother could have never imagined that two generations later one son would be a member of Congress and another would be standing before the crowd to say, “I am a candidate for the president of the United States of America.” Castro, who was referring to his twin brother U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, then repeated his candidacy in Spanish.
How NBC decided to tag Castro as a frontrunner for the nomination is something of a mystery. That might be true if you’re only considering the constellation of Democrats who are officially in the running already. He’s probably got at least as good of a chance as Warren or Gabbard, but that’s not saying much.
One of Castro’s major problems is that he really doesn’t have much of a resume compared to some of the heavier hitters we’re expecting to get into the race over the next few months. He spent some time as a city councilman and then mayor in San Antonio, but he was more of a “local news” phenomenon until Barack Obama plucked him out of Texas and gave him a cabinet position at Housing and Urban Development. Since leaving that post he hasn’t exactly been making headlines.
And it wasn’t really the sort of cabinet job that traditionally launches public servants to greatness, like Attorney General or Secretary of State. There have been 17 HUD Secretaries and not one of them has gone on to be their party’s nominee, say nothing of becoming president. The one who comes the closest is the current office holder, Ben Carson, but he was a primary candidate before taking that office, so it doesn’t really count. Aside from that, Castro doesn’t have much to point to in terms of accomplishments or national name recognition.
Even if we’re only examining the usual demographic pigeonhole race the Democrats love to engage in, Castro doesn’t gain too much of a leg up. I’m sure the party would love to see a Latino nominee, but we really seem to be in a holding pattern while they wait for the (cue dramatic music) First Female President. A straight, married dude with two kids isn’t exactly going to set the hard left on fire. On top of that, keep in mind that Castro was a Hillary endorser in the 2016 race. That’s probably not going to endear him with the Bernie Bros.
But hey… best of luck and welcome to the party, pal. Hopefully, they’ll make room for you at a very crowded table. You don’t want to get caught in a situation like some of the 2016 Republicans who were forced to debate at the kiddie table because they ran out of room on the main stage.